The Hip and Ascetic Experience

It’s been many years since I’ve cried. And it’s not because I have made any particular effort not to cry as I view it as a completely natural emotional response to things that touch a very deep place within us. Sometimes we cry when we are overcome with joy, other times we cry when we need comforting from hurt. Crying is a necessary release and a built in mechansim that serves multiple functions, from biochemical, to evolutionary and social.

I haven’t cried recently, and I mean the weeping cry, until this past father’s day, when an uncontrollabe sadness emerged out of the blue and swept over me. As my fathers favorite Indian classics played on the speakers in my living room, rivers of tears rained down my cheeks. I reflected on him and the many things I wish could have been. It was the music that took me to a place I hadn’t been.

"Turn off your rationality and just experience" she counseled me. My friend, who was the chair for the NY foundation for the arts, was explaining to how to appreciate art, which creates an aesthetic response and activitaves different regions of the brain to unlock completely new experiences. "It is a visceral and emotional undertaking and not a rational one."

I cried again just now, as all Canadians did, as we listened to Bobcaygeon and let the nostalgia overtake us. The sounds that are forever etched in us and that for each of us are inextricably linked to experiences and memories that have considerable gravity and weight. As Gord wailed, I was instantaneously transported back to my home on Counter St., to my friends and the halls of my high school. I could literally hear, smell and taste my childhood. The basketball practices, the house parties, the poutine, the pitchers at Dr. Girdys.

The latest in neuroscience is revealing that music has dedicated mechanisms in the brain. It is a profound and powerful higher order invention that has been part of our human history since our earliest upright days. Music is revelatory and spiritual and therapeutic and transcendant. It can take us to the peak of bliss and to the deepest depths of sorrow. Art you experience with your eyes open, music with your eyes closed — new dimensions are revealed through auditory pathways.

The music of The Tragically Hip is for me an indelible part of my youth. It is central to so many experiences, linked to so many friends and to so many incredible memories. It is linked to first love and first heartbreak. To the first sense of camaraderie and the first thrill of victory. To a careless time when everything seemed within reach.

And so it is with acute sadness, that I bid farewell, along with my fellow Canadians, to Gord and The Hip. You are being taken from us in the cruelest of ways but your art has left its dent in the Universe and your music will play on in our souls through eternity.

A profound thank-you to you and to all artists who allow us to escape the clutches of rationality and to experience higher states of being.

I’m reminded, courtesy of you, to be present and to revel. To not think and just allow the music to lift me to a trancendent state. To know that my future memories are being created right now, at this very moment.