Monday, January 23, 2006

Ari's Oasis. 3. The Famous Rock Band on the Verge of Collapse

One day a whole rock band arrived at Maya's shop. The band was very famous and caused a great stir in the bazaar. Maya had to sternly remind the crowd that gathered to be quiet and respectful.

The band milled about the shop, as Ari wasn't ready to see them. The leader of the band apologized to Maya for making the appointment on such short notice but they had been in a nearby city on tour and decided on the spur of the moment to come to the oasis for help. They needed help badly. Maya replied that no apology was needed and that her father would be with them shortly.

Finally Ari let it be known that he was ready. One by one the band members traversed the narrow hall and entered the consulting room, which was dark and cool and always had its back door open.

"Sit. Please," Ari said.

There were five of them—five lean, intense young men.

"My name is Brian," one of them said. “We're the Lime Death Squad. You've heard of us?"

Ari smiled. "No. I'm sorry."

"No matter! Just as well. We're having this incredibly terrible tour. Jason [he nodded at a redhead twisted up in pain] got sick and needed an emergency operation. Andy [he nodded at a sullen, violent-looking fellow whose head looked like a muscle], well, Andy will have to speak for himself. Mike [Mike smiled when introduced] just got married and misses his wife badly and is bitching all the time about being away from her. Moses [he nodded at a young man who appeared to be a soldier in the Devil's brigade] can't think about anything but sex and is always bringing two or three girls around and doing it in our faces. I write the songs and I haven't had a good idea in about two years. It's all hit the fan on this tour and if we don't kill each other it'll be a bloody miracle."

Ari nodded and turned to Andy, the angry one. "What drugs do you use?" he asked mildly.

"Man ... " Andy growled.

"Don't worry. I have a terrible memory."

"Yeah. Right. I use a little of this and a little of that. But I didn't come for a lecture!"

"Crack cocaine, meth, alcohol, marijuana," Brian said.

"Screw you," Andy replied.

Ari nodded. He turned to Moses the rake. "Why don't you write songs? Don't you have songs in you?"

Moses made a face. "That's not my talent. I like to stand off to the side and watch the girls."

"So, Brian. You're the glue? You hold everything together?" Ari continued.

"I suppose so. Though I've just about had it!"

Ari grew quiet and searched each man's face in turn.

"What's your question?" he finally said. “What do you want from me? You look to be a rock band on the road, in the middle of a tour, plagued by stardom, the traveling blues, your own personalities, too much time together and too much time on your hands—all the usual. What's new?"

No one replied. Then Mike, the man with the new wife, broke the silence.

"We used to enjoy ourselves," he said. "We used to have fun. We were light-hearted. Now everything feels dark and unmanageable. Something's changed. Five years ago we rode in a van and were happy. Now we take over a whole floor of some great hotel, we get whatever we want, and we're miserable."

Ari nodded. "You had a dream, to become rock stars, and you achieved your dream. Then you came up against a meaning crisis, which you are now in the middle of. You are without meaning. So you fall back on old, second-rate meanings. Andy does drugs and has his rage, which comes in handy. Moses does sex. Brian creates, but poorly. The group’s meaning has died. The beautiful dream of becoming a famous rock band vanished … by coming true. You are bereft of meaning."

The band remained silent. Finally Brian spoke. "That feels exactly right," he said. "We play our old songs, we work very hard, we take pride in our performance, but it feels utterly meaningless."

"There are five things you must do," Ari said. "First, you have to help others. That is the best--sometimes the only--road to recovering meaning. You might meet with the Mothers of Charity in the city in which you now find yourself. They are very pious, bad-tempered women who minister to thousands of our country's saddest, sickest people. You could give them a million dollars and your tour would improve instantly. Second, each of you must fall in love with two things. You must fall in love with music again. And you must love a real person. Third, you must grow up, which means doing battle with your own disinclination to change. Fourth, you must respect how far you have come and honor the band. Fifth, each of you must create. Not just you, Brian, but all of you. Each of you must go deep inside and provide personal music for your next album. Each of you must contribute like an artist and a hero. If you do these five things, you can survive."

The band stayed for three hours. Ari worked with them as a group and as individuals, prying, pushing, healing, instructing. He made them laugh and he made them cry. When they left, they said the thing that so many of his clients said upon leaving: "We have a lot to think about." Ari simply nodded. As lost in their thoughts as they were, they wouldn't have heard him anyway.

Maya appeared a few minutes later.

"They left you five thousand dollars, father."

"Good. Go on the Net and buy their albums. I'm curious to hear what they sound like."

"You won't like them!" she laughed.

"Their music? Probably not. But I like them. And I think their next album will be very surprising."

1 comment:

denbe said...

Good reading and edifying. Also raises a couplea questions: the difference between aspiring and creating and how to instill all the inherent excitement of aspiring into creating; and, why make creating contingent on loving someone?