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Original Facebook post from March 11, 2012 5:01am – typed out on my iPhone as I lay awake in bed after hosting a party.

There’s a theory that holds that inebriation and exhaustion lead to creative writing. Let’s put that to the test. I suspect, personally, that those two states just lead to a relaxing of one’s social editor, their combined effects on me at this moment are certainly not going to lead to any wordsmithing on my part that will put me on a level with Hemingway or Faulkner or Melville, but maybe it will lead to a more truthful account, or perhaps a more error-laden account, of what I was feeling and thinking while I was at this concert.

The last concert I was at was the Foo Fighters and I’ve been meaning to write about that for months now, I’ve even got a good draft started; if you consider good exactly that which doesn’t describe what I was feeling while providing a stale, wooden recollection of what transpired. I should get drunk and try rewriting that.

But that was the last concert, and Friday night was the latest concert. Symphony X, whom I’ve heard, I’ve got some of their stuff and it’s good. Warbringer I don’t know and they didn’t really impact me. But Iced Earth, they are different story. Scott had sent me a few links before the concert, notably, their tribute to Dark City. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuwW9IVwZ0U

My thoughts about it as I watched it for the first time – yup, that’s metal and that’s a lot of sparks. Patton would approve: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs4v-zexx8M

But then I found myself at the concert, watching the pit, and the absolute joy that people in the pit were slamming with; they’d slam into each other, bouncing off and around and into themselves and the periphery of the pit and then they would find each other and grasp hands, pulling each other in for big bear hugs and a shout or two into the other metal head’s ear, pulling away and smiling, connecting, and then back to slamming.

They were living and they knew it and they celebrated with those around them.

Iced Earth’s lead singer stopped for a moment just beyond the half way mark of their set and addressed the audience. He spoke passionately about everything that was going wrong in the world today, or as a metal head would put it “all the stuff that’s fucked up”, and he spoke about his belief in the indomitable thing that is the human spirit and that’s when I began to connect with that band.

They were trying to speak to and sing about the very thing I had been watching – the mosh pit. For those who’ve never seen one live, let alone been in one, it’s hard to describe. There’s a benevolent violence to it. There’s obviously a big chunk of testosterone fueled gender-based display going on, as male after male slam into each other in a mock riot.

But there’s also a release, there were several women in the pit Friday night was well, casting off everything society tries to define them as and giving themselves over to the music and the moment, twirling themselves into the middle of a two-dozen strong melee and seeing where the random impacts send them hurtling.

And that’s where you see the beauty of the mosh pit, when the random chaos sends someone crashing through a group of strangers and onto the floor those same strangers turn to their downed colleague as one and set him upright again, there’s no danger of being trampled, this group of musical anarchists obeys that rule without pause or exception.

Time and time again I watched as five, six, seven people bent down and grabbed a hand, a belt, a shoulder, or a chunk of shirt and lent their strength to the whole to put their brother or sister back on their feet before the band’s guitarist could finish the CRUNCH-CRUNCH-CRUNCH of that current power chord.

I watched the pit and thought about the indomitable human spirit and about how, when the worst is upon us, we, as a species, have shown, again and again and again, the willingness to put aside our own immediate concerns and extend a hand to those who, through the random and chaotic events that surround them, have found themselves flat on their backs, ears ringing, heads spinning, ribs aching, fearful of what the future holds, trying to find their equilibrium, and suddenly in desperate need, cannot right themselves in time to escape harm.

In putting them upright, in helping the people around us that are the most vulnerable, we define the value we place in each individual life and affirm our own value. We find a joy in pulling that person out of harm’s way, if only for that moment it takes to pull them from the ground to their feet and send them back into the spinning violence of the pit, if only for that brief connection as palms meet, thumbs intertwine, and fingers grip, confirming that the help offered has been accepted and appreciated, before the metal-fueled tempo of our evening pushes us apart and the next stranger flies into our midst, desperate for purchase, as our hands reach out, indomitable, to provide it.

End of original post.

Thoughts looking back today: there are connections everywhere if we pay careful enough attention. The song the band played after the singer spoke was Anthem, which I ended up buying on the drive home. I didn’t realize it then, but the third verse would be reflective of the changes I would make in my life six months later. It’s interesting that there were already little hints about what I needed to be focused on cropping up in those things I found interesting or compelling. Is that the human brain’s insistence on finding coincidence in everything or the gentle nudge of the universe trying to push us onto the right path?


Iced Earth – Anthem

In your eyes I see you’re desperate and in hunger
Reclaim your future, your past uncertain
See this child he’s raised in hate and in anger
His eyes wide open, his rage so focused

Torn asunder, our destiny is in sight
This is the anthem to celebrate your life
Torn asunder, our destiny is in sight
This is the anthem to celebrate your life

The single mother she is strained and she suffers
She slaves away her life in turmoil
The homeless man had it all and now has nothing
His spirit broken, plagued from injustice

Torn asunder, our destiny is in sight
This is the anthem to celebrate your life
Torn asunder, our destiny is in sight
This is the anthem to celebrate your life

We have the power make our lives what they are to be
Reconnect with our humanity
Transcend to a higher place, accepting reality
You are the key to the life you seek

Torn asunder, our destiny is in sight
This is the anthem to celebrate your life
Torn asunder, our destiny is in sight
This is the anthem to celebrate your life