The concept of a sacred place can be a tough one for an atheist to grasp but it makes sense to me when Joseph Campbell explains it like this:
I try to find a sacred place every day but only succeed two or three times a week. When I am there, I am glad that I am because of the special thing I find there. It is a thing that I have found in love, in drugs, and in the moment of creative inspiration. It is a feeling of being simultaneously calm and excited.
The calm is not simple relaxation, it is the sense that nothing – not even death – can harm me. And the excitement is concentrated and useful, not erratic and frantic like most forms of excitement. Even after the moment passes, the positive feeling lingers and can re-appear at the oddest times.
Like yesterday. I was walking to work when something unexpected happened: I realized was happy. I could feel myself smiling under my mask and realized it was for the simple reason that I was walking down a sunny Manhattan sidewalk on a beautiful morning in July. You never know when or where you will find your bliss. Or when it will find you.
“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom; for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.”
American society is almost equally divided between two groups of people: those who work too hard, and those who don’t work hard enough. I am firmly entrenched in the second group but I have some respect for those in the first. One of the inevitable consequences of working too hard is the need to release the tension that such a lifestyle builds. It is for that purpose, and for those people, that Las Vegas was created.
For those whose life is brimming with stress, or boiling over with desire for immediate gratification, Las Vegas must feel like Nirvana. For those of us who work too little, it is something else: a destination that defies comprehension. It is delicious food that leaves you hungry and a cocktail that sobers you up. It is a land where sex is inescapable, but love is as elusive as ever.
Sin City was the nickname given to Las Vegas in consideration of the sex workers who rented rooms above the saloons near the depot that was built in 1899 by the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. A few years after the railroad came through, the city was founded, and by the end of the 20th Century it had the largest population of any city settled in that century. The nickname changed in the 1950s to Atomic City, due to the fact that the US government conducted atomic tests near enough to the city that residents and tourists gathered to watch the sprouting mushroom clouds in the distance, as unconcerned about the radiation then as they are about global warming today.
Las Vegas means The Meadows, even though it is situated in the Mojave Desert, because the Colorado River meanders through the Spring Mountains that form one of the valley’s walls. The sunlight that filters through the clouds makes mesmerizing patterns on the mountains that are almost enough to distract from the more immediate temptations on The Strip.
The constant bombardment of flashing lights, ringing bells, and pounding beats intends to overwhelm the senses and return you to the state of mind of an overstimulated child. And it works. Eventually, you can only lie back and let Vegas wash over you. That is when the magic starts. What happens when you are stimulated and/or intoxicated past the point of conscious thought is that the subconscious thoughts bubble to the surface. This is the place where inspiration is born. This is the place where love grabs a slippery foothold and hangs on to fight another day. This is where the veil that separates reality from illusion drops so that you can never be sure again, even after you return to your senses, what is real.
It was too hot today to go outside. Inside is not a lot better. It seemed like a good day to record a song. I wrote this one a couple of weeks ago and liked it enough to get a quick sketch of it down for future reference. I doubt that I will include it on my next album, so this is probably as polished as it’s going to get.
If you want to find the secret of love, all I can tell you is you have to look hard. And you have to look in unexpected places. You never know where or when it could turn up. It might even be looking for the secret of you.
Let's get lost in the softness
Of making one out of two
Never let me recover
From falling in love with you
Let's go below the undertow
See how long it takes to grow gills
We'll only rise with the rising tide
When the waves are standing still
We will find the secret of love
Hiding in plain sight
We will find the secret of love
That makes everything alright
We'll build a home where we can be alone
Beyond the reach and ravage of time
We'll listen to whales and fairy tales
And watch the universe unwind
Sit with me for a minute
Let us catch our breath before
the parade of life starts up again
Before the crowd comes back between us and
all their noise drowns out the
beating of our hearts
Before we take off one set of masks and
replace them with another
let us share a naked smile
Before we get back on our paths
Before we put this one behind
Lyrics to a song without a melody
Music to a song that never was
We all go down fighting for a cause
A time for observation and compulsion
Of dragging the show back up to the stage
Of giving up on getting clean
And drinking my way down to New Orleans
You can run but you can't
outrun Mr. Hyde
Falling in love for the last time and
Exhibiting all of the signs
Of a slow and a steady decline
Does anyone know at the time,
or only when they look back,
which time will be their last?
What is it that happens to lovers
When they no longer make love?
What is it that lovers become?