I sat cross-legged in the longest branch of the tallest tree. Mind blank, frisbees thrown, Buster’s crushed, ducks avoided. In my mind, not a concrete train of thought to follow, but an intangible pervasive sense of understanding brewing. The boundaries between my physical self and multiverse around me slowly blurring with each update to my snapchat story (MENTAL GAME STRONG 💪🏼💯😜). Normal procedure dictates a 17 step process to safely disembark from a transcendence of this calibre. I was not afforded this luxury.
In ancient Greek mythology, heroes in search of invulnerability could venture into Hades’ underworld to find what they seek in the river Styx. It was said that if you swam in its treacherous waters, you’d amerge ashore, indestructible. However, the loophole: In order to not be claimed by the river’s vicious current, the hero must imagine himself tethered to the shore, that tether connected to a self selected square inch of the hero’s body. If the hero survives, the entirety of his body’s previous vulnerability would be channeled into the spot that tethered him to the shore.
So too does such a process exist in TM (Transcendental Meditation). A key session in my training focused on the installation of a safeguard phrase. A specific combination of vibrations that, when present, will immediately snap me back to reality. If there should be an explosion, a gunshot, or a raging forest fire I’d be entirely oblivious on account of my deep, transcendent concentration. Much like spirit animals, aural safeguards depend on your personal makeup. In order to have any effect, the phrase must have a firmly resonant effect on the beholder.
While on step 4 of the 17 step disengagement process, my aural ejection was triggered. My astral self violently shot through layers upon layers of both space and time as well as several theoretical dimensions not yet proven to exist with empirical evidence. Through the disorientation of my unanticipated reunion of mind and body, my aural interruption persisted. In the distance I heard a woman crying, in need of comfort. She was hysterically wailing and screaming about something, and I intended to find out what that something was.
Sobbing on the swingset was the most magnificent creature I’d ever seen. Out of her gray tuque I could see her hair was shoulder length and had been many colours, in its current state, blue. On her face she wore rounded translucent-rimmed glasses and a septum piercing. While her wardrobe commanded most of the attention, she had fair skin and a slender figure, one that she covered with a scarf, a neutral-coloured knee-length pea coat, high-waisted faded jeans and black Doc Martins. I couldn’t tell if it was her appearance or the fact that she was violently sobbing, but I was madly in love.
Her nose was buried in her phone as I approached.
“Trump got you down?” I took an educated guess based on her appearance.
“Perpetually, yes” she responded, through teary eyes “but that’s not why I’m …y’know” she said, gesturing towards herself.
“Scream crying in a children’s playground in the middle of winter?” I offered. She caught my eye and we shared a short laugh.
“Yeah… that.” she conceded. I sat down on the swing next to hers.
“Well if it isn’t Trump that’s got you down, what is it?” I asked.
“You wouldn’t understand.” she said, through sniffles. My presence seems to have calmed her considerably.
“Trust me, I know what it’s like to live every day in fear, whatever it is, you can tell me.” My desperate need to comfort her now clearly on display.
“It’s just that… Do you ever feel like no one can hear you? Like, you want to warn them about something they NEED to be doing, but no one cares about what you say, no matter how loud or how often you say it?” Something inside of me stirred, I could feel the passion she gave off and it was clear to me that she knew what it was like to be an anatidaephobia awareness activist. I was convinced for a second that she too might be afraid of ducks, and that fate had brought us together. I looked her straight in her eyes.
“Everyday.” I said with as much conviction as I could muster.
As it would turn out she was upset that ‘everyone was sleeping on Sampha’s new album last week’ and now that it has received universal critical acclaim, she ‘wasn’t getting any credit for recommending it on Twitter on the day it came out’.
Trying to figure out something to say that would make her feel better, I suggested, “Well, I’ve never heard of this Sampha, but if I like the album, I’ll give you 100% of the credit.”
Her body perked up, visibly excited by this prospect.
“Oh, well I’ve got it loaded onto my phone, if you wanted to listen with me.”
She handed me one of her earbuds as she queued up the album. The title track Plastic 100ºC hadn’t even started yet and it was already my new favourite album. It had introduced me to my girlfriend.
We listened to Sampha’s beautiful melodies carried through his haunting vocal delivery over richly layered tracks that were both frenetic and relaxed. We let our hands fold into one another’s. The album continues with the album’s best track, Blood on Me. This tracks utilizes percussion and vocal samples in a very interesting manner, keeping time primarily with several layers of snaps and claps and saving traditional drum sounds as accents during the bridge. She could tell I was enjoying the album, this in turn brought a spark to her eye and a smile to her face. None of my high scores at Buster’s, none of my many ultimate frisbee touchdowns, not even my first perfect Jellyfish on the PVT (Professional Vape Tour) could match the pure elation that surged through my body when I knew that she’d smiled because of me. I was determined to continue loving this album, even if I didn’t.
I was tested with the fourth track, (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano. She said that this was her favourite song. I really wasn’t sure as to why, I thought a lot of the prior intrigue established with the eccentric arrangements was lost with the limited piano/vocal instrumentation. I was sure to not let my dissent show. Luckily, the ballad did have a rather beautiful tune to enjoy even if the lyrical content was rather navel-gazey.
I didn’t have to feign interest throughout the rest of the album. On the back half the songs were less frenetic than the top of the album, but still struck a nice balance to produce very enjoyable songs like Under and Incomplete Kisses. As the album came to a close I told her the line I had been rehearsing in my head over and over the entire time we were listening.
“Wow, I think I found my new favourite album, and it’s all thanks to you.”
She smiled once again.
“By the way, I’m Tambin.”
NO DUCKS – SAFE TO CONSUME
(*DISCLAIMER* While this album is safe to consume, Tambin and I would really prefer you didn’t as it holds a profound significance to our relationship – thank you.)