Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reggae Colors = STOP, LOOK, GO @ the Bowl


The crowd of fifteen thousand was on its 30,000 feet and singing along with the performers to a song that was a hit forty years ago.  Looking around you could see 70ish couples and newlywed twenty somethings with their infant.  In my row, a group of apparent Polynesian ancestry had two full ice chests of beer and across the walk way was a stylishly dressed woman in her 60s who was caring for and dancing with a man in a wheel chair.  After nearly three hours, the crowd roared as one for the encore by the band whose origin was in the 1960s and included son of reggae icon Bob Marley and his mother Rita Marley.  It was a transcendent moment that expressed Marley’s vision of one love, one heart, one people.   Here in the nearly one hundred year old amphitheater, it felt like the walls of our social categories  were thrown down and life was exposed in its core.  Separation by ethnicity, age, class were all left at the turnstiles and we were together.  Drawn together by a music that proclaims freedom from ‘isms’ and schisms, we were together and free again.  When Marley was alive you would never see this wildly heterogeneous crowd.  Back in the 70s it was nearly all young, long haired white kids. 

This joyous celebration highlighted an important aspect of successful reinvention:  Be willing to adjust to changed circumstances.  I used to be a regular summertime fan of the Hollywood Bowl and then in recent years traffic congestion and parking frustration had risen to a breaking point and I quit.  Crossing the Bowl off my list of venues and I passed on many good shows because it wasn’t easy like back in the day.  Enticed out of my lassitude and negative attitude by a once in a lifetime pairing of Ziggy Marley and the I-Threes by my close friend Ras Herm, I took a chance.   We opted for a different approach.  Instead of fighting the transportation issues, we surrendered and took the shuttle bus with a few other friends.  No stress either coming or going.  Get on the bus with your ice chest and lunch, chit chat en route, and relax into the irie spirit. 
I Threes @ Hollywood Bowl
The show was an absolute treat from start to finish.  MC’d by Ziggy, it began promptly on time, ended on time and included massive video screen and powerful acoustics.  Ras Michael, the Wailing Souls, the Mighty Diamonds and played their classic and anthemic songs so that by the time the I-Threes arrived we were primed.  Each note was perfect as their solos and harmonies soared on classic Bob Marley songs and their personal hits.  By the time Ziggy came on, the crowd was on its feet, moving as one body to the beat and living up to his lyric of “Look Whose Dancing Now.”  As great as the music was even greater was the camaraderie of the 15K brothers and sisters.  As if to confirm this feeling, I ran into four persons who I did not expect to see.   Somehow releasing my judgments and attitudes opened the channels of synchronicity and facilitated the connection with those acquaintances. 

Musing on this splendid evening, I realized how my old concepts of doing the Bowl limited my potential for pleasure.  Breaking out of that cage and adjusting to the changed conditions allowed me to have a transcendent evening with my tribe.  This is one of those downsides from age and experience, sometimes we think we have it figured out and act accordingly.  Additionally, we may think that since something is different it no longer serves us.  It could be in our friendships, jobs, homes, sports, you name it.  Giving it a break, looking for a different approach, and taking a chance could open the door to a reborn experience.  Just as the reggae colors of red, gold, and green suggest:  Stop, Look, Go and forward your life.

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