Kashk-E Bademjoon and Split-Pea Soup
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. My job is particularly annoying me today. I mean, it's not even what I'm here in LA for. I'm an artist, for crying out loud. But here I am, answering phones, making coffee, writing emails for other people, recording company shows on to a DVD only to file them in a "library" in the back simply because my supervisor said so. Twenty one years of intense musical training, thirteen years of working for the man, eleven years of playing in hotels, dirty bars and clubs where only a few people care to listen, and some odd years of everything else later, I'm still paying my dues. "Pas chi fekr kardi?", my mom says. Yesterday, my perspective was much more positive. But today I'm angry, I'm irritated, I'm frustrated, and even though it's Friday, I am having a difficult time realizing that I have to be here for another six hours. What am I doing here?
I go to the SoCiArts website (awesome, by the way - www.sociarts.com) to check out the new profile that I just created yesterday. Like I said before, yesterday was a good day: I was feeling great about my own personal music career, I was being creative, I made a new profile on this cool new website, and I somehow convinced myself that everything I was doing couldn't possibly be in vain. But today is a different story. I couldn't feel more disconnected. As I looked over all of the other artists' profiles, I couldn't help but feel like an outsider. There I was, a newcomer, my photos so amateur and geared to promoting my own music, I felt so selfish and small. Persian blood inside of me running like wild under my skin, but born in America: a country that seems to pride itself on mass production, capitalism, the Constitution, a wide cultural array of people (the "Mixing Bowl", if you will), "winning" wars, and enjoying various "freedoms" of all kinds. Take that how you will.
It's lunchtime now: I have leftover Kashk-E Bademjoon (wikipedia, American/non-Persian folks) and a little bit of Split-Pea soup. Again, the two opposing forces at work reminding me to make a decision. "You can't have both, so choose." To make matters worse, the only thing I have here stocked away at work to eat with my Kashk-E Bademjoon are my office's never-ending supply of Saltines crackers. I actually took some time to think about it, quickly coming to the conclusion that would just be borderline unacceptable. I'm not THAT desperate to unite forces. Some things should stay separated.
I click back to the SoCiArts homepage. I see a post entitled, "What ART You Doing to Show Your Support for Freedom In Iran?". As if I needed one more thing today to remind me of something that I'm not doing or need to be doing better! It affected me, needless to say, and is what prompted me to start writing this here blog of the day. Man, good question.
What AM I doing? Sure, I wear the wristbands, I attended a few of the protests here in LA, I go to the concerts and support the non-profit organizations the best way I know how, I listen attentively and objectively to people's passionate opinions, I think about how I can make my music contribute something to the community in a way that would support their cause for freedom in Iran. I had a friend and mentor of mine ask me once at a party, "How do you feel about what's happening in Iran? Actually, you probably don't even know what's going on." This person, I love this person, never meant any harm with their question. But it still stung me. I walk around like I'm so strong, like I've got it all under control, but this actually hurt. It hurt because that is something that's been weighing heavily on my mind and heart for some time now, and this person's words struck me so hard, it knocked me unconscious; I found myself speechless, dumbfounded. Bull's eye. Well done.
I have come to a realization just now. And it's a realization that is going to have to be made time and time again, over and over in my mind, and I don't know if I'll ever get it. Just like black will never be white, light will never be dark, up will never be down, Iranian will never be American, and vice versa.
I am Iranian AND American, I am East AND West, I am spirit AND body, I am what I eat: Kashk-E Bademjoon and Split-Pea Soup. And as long as I continue to strive to balance the contradiction in myself, I am simultaneously contributing to the balancing of the contradiction of the whole Universe in its grand and glorious Beingness. Hermes's second of his seven Hermetic Principles, the Principle of Correspondence:
"'As above so below, as below so above; as within so without, as without so within':
This law tells us that things which appear to be very different have attributes that are actually quite similar. It also tells us that by studying one thing we can learn about something else. That, for example, is exactly what statistical samples are all about. By examining a small portion of a population, a determination can be made as to what those same attributes are for the entire population."
What am I doing to show my support for freedom in Iran? "I'm starting with the man in the mirror."