And, you got me instead. How lucky you are!
Actually, a more fitting title would have been “What I learned at the KISS concert in Toronto” or something along those lines but, would it have been as catchy?
But seriously, in the least expected of places and times, I learned a very important lesson about my PTSD journey. In some ways, it also concretized an emerging belief I have been mulling around in my head for the past few week. Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me get to the start of the story.
Saturday night was the KISS concert in Toronto. As I usually do for concerts, I booked a room at a local hotel so that there would be no concerns about having to drive home after. So, my buddy picked me up, we went to the Go Train and headed into Toronto for the night. I could stop the story right here and go into detail about the amount of anxiety I had building up for weeks about taking the train. Or the new and messed up trust issues I have begun to develop (apparently a bit of a spin off of my latest PTSD issues) over the last few weeks, or I could go on about the irrational fears of some catastrophic event taking place. Maybe in another post. This one is about growth.
After checking in, having a few pregame warm up drinks, supper and a quick change into the appropriate KISS t-shirt, it was go time. We headed to the arena and in we went. Usually, I get right into the flow and start snapping pic after pic of the concert as a means of “remembering” the show but this time, I didn’t. I had a very different goal and plan in mind. I was simply going to be there, in the moment and enjoy the show as it happened. I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I could even do it but I was going to try. Even with the two police/two paramedics with the stretcher or the mental ill guy sitting beside me that got kicked out after he threatened to “fuck me up”, I was determined to be in the moment.
Now, before I go any further, I am not slamming anyone that sits back and videos portions of the show or snaps pics. Hell, I use to do that myself. In this day and age, it is the nature of the beast but I wanted to try going “old school” if you will about the whole experience. And you know what, I was surprised by the outcome.
I stood and sat with the flow of the audience. I moved to the music and stared intently at the stage as I watched the band go through song after song intermixed with Paul doing his best to get the crowd going. I would catch myself from time to time wandering off to the screens behind the band to get a close up view of what was happening but as soon as I realized my focus had changed, back to Paul or Gene I would go with my focus. Memories from previous concerts or even times with friends surfaced in my mind as a result of the power of the music. It was blissfully enjoyable on more than just the surface level of being at a concert. I was allowing the experience to move me and move through me. I was just there.
At times, I would glance at those around me and see how there were taking in the show. Each person did so in there own way and I am sure that they were touched by it in their own way, with their own memories coming to the foreground. But I also saw those that were so focussed on catching the moment on their phones (a few people I saw were actually recoding almost he entire concert, or at least their favourite songs) that they were no longer in the moment. I kind of felt sorry for them at that moment. In their desire to preserve the moment, they were actually missing the moment. (I thought of a picture I saw of an elderly woman just being in the moment and taking in an event while others were on their phones.)
So where am I getting with all this? Well, it comes down to mindfulness and the power of being in the moment, in the here and now and allowing all other things to fall to the wayside during the moment. That was my goal and that is exactly what I did and exactly what I experienced. I put the last 9 months of mindfulness training into practice in a high energy, high volume, high paced activity and everything slowed down to what was happening in the moment.
For the two hours plus of the concert (except for the times I was distracted by the messed up guy), I simply took in the moment for what it was. An experience. When the pyros would fire or the fog machine would blast, or even when Paul did his zip line to the crowd stage, I kept in the moment. By the end of the show, I was energized. My mind was racing and I began to process it. When we got back to the hotel, I was blabbing like a madman about anything and everything. I delved in the story of my journey and the new growth I have been experiencing, partly because I didn’t know how to talk about what I just experienced. But I had to talk about something and my journey seemed like the most appropriate.
As I journaled yesterday and continued to process my experience, things began to come into focus. I realized, with he help of a KISS concert that my PTSD journey is all about achieving a goal. A goal aided by being in the moment, the here and now and just allowing yourself to be. By doing this, I found out that goal always has been and always will be finding PEACE in the moment, with my past and what my future might hold.
Peace, something that is achieved by being mindful, by being honest about yourself and by honouring your experiences. Peace, which you can extend to others through More Love and Less Judgement.