The mosh pit of life
The mosh pit of life
There was a period in my life after I left Uni where I believed that a ‘mosh pit’ was the best place to be. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, it is the place at the front of a concert stage where people are tightly packed standing next to each other. It’s hot, sweaty, and you get close to complete strangers who are mostly in there for the same reasons: to amplify the experience. The music seems to be felt in the mosh pit far more than anywhere else in the crowd.
I would go to gigs where the mosh pit became violent. People would start pushing each other and the crowd would involuntarily sway until a divide opened. The space would then be filled with people running and crashing into each other. This is commonly referred to in the ‘metal’ music scene as a ‘circle pit’. The idea is that people run around pushing others out the way until a large circle of empty space is created in the crowd. The space would then be used as somewhat of a boxing arena. People would swing their arms and legs and run at full speed into each other. I would be in the thick of it.
There were concerts that I went to where the musicians would engage the crowd to participate in this behaviour. If you thought the circle pit was enough insanity for one evening, then that’s not the worst of it. Or perhaps to you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the behaviour that I am describing. Either way there is a revelation that comes with this anecdote, and it is soon to follow. But first, to another mosh pit extravaganza: The Wall of Death. The Wall of Death is when the crowd, usually instigated by the musicians on stage, parts like two oceans. It requires the unfaltering commitment of a few aggressive individuals in the middle to force their peers away from each other. The crowd parts and becomes two. Each side is now twice as compressed as before. The music tends to get heavier, sometimes slower, and sludgier. The musicians on the stage may even get everyone in the audience to crouch. Everyone must conform. If you don’t, you will be singled out and abused or forced to conform. Then, as the music reaches a point called the ‘breakdown’ – a place in the song when the music slows to half-time, and the guitars crunch a torturously low tone – the two seas of people run into each other. The point of collision is timed perfectly with the start of the breakdown. There are most certainly casualties.
There was an unusual etiquette in the mosh pit, in that if you fell down, there would be at least 5 hands ready to pick you up again as soon as you hit the floor. But throwing punches, elbows to the ribs and general battering was perfectly acceptable. The more bruised and worn out I felt after a concert the more I thought I had ‘made the most of it’ and that I got my money’s worth out of the experience.
Whether you have been to concerts and the behaviour that I have described seems perfectly normal to you, or whether you are surprised by the willingly chaotic and barbaric way in which people can engage with each other, there is a revelation in that the ‘mosh pit’ is no different to human life as we have so created it to be. We may not run into each other in the streets or militantly push people around, but this behaviour is simply an outlet and expression of what is happening on a much more subtle level all around us every day. When someone says something to put us down, does it not hurt? What about even if they just think it, do you think we can feel it? If we can be open to the fact that ‘everything is energy and therefore everything is because of energy’ then perhaps we can begin to ponder on the fact that we can feel energy. So if this is true – which it is immutably so – then even if someone directs hate or abuse to us through their thoughts, there is no doubt we can feel it if we are in tune with our feelings. Women know this all too well when a sleezy man enters a bar – they can feel the energy all over them.
But back to the point. You might ask: how is a mosh pit like everyday human life? Well, let’s start with the fact that we are surrounded by each other. Perhaps we are not packed together like sardines, and if you live in a remote area then there may not be another person for miles. Even so, we live on this planet together, and as of 2021 there are almost 8 billion other human beings around us. You would have to try very hard to avoid one. And if you did, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article! So perhaps we can say that we are unavoidably connected, just like in a mosh pit.
Also just like in a mosh pit, we can feel the energy of everyone around us. If someone is having a good time, dancing and smiling, we can feel it in their movements and their expression. Equally, if someone is not respecting the space, pushing others and imposing their movements, then the mosh pit is affected. Depending on the level of outward and forceful movement, the whole mosh pit might sway and people may fall down. Is this not akin to life on earth? The abusive actions of those around us can be felt as a ripple effect throughout the world. Whether it be war, rape, murder or suicide, the energy of such acts has a staggering force which flows into our society in a shock wave of repercussions. Do we ever consider that the disregard we have for functioning in harmony with the soil we walk on could cause the environmental forces (earthquakes, flooding, fires, hurricanes) we are facing today?
I used to think that I could escape the mosh pit and ride on top of it. Jumping off the stage onto hundreds of hands ready to catch me. But soon, I would be absorbed back into the mass. This to me is symbolic of the escapism we have in our society. The checking out of life through mindless entertainment, stimulation, drugs and alcohol.
There is an underlying rot beneath us that we don’t want to address, yet we try to float on top of it for a while and pretend it doesn’t exist. It may feel good, a relief from the chaos of life, but we can never stay up there forever and eventually we are faced with the same compression we were in all along.
The mosh pit itself can even be a place of comfort or reprieve. Allow me to elaborate: the music that is blasting at us is another force of its own – the emotions of the artist bludgeoning our ears and bodies. It is no surprise that I felt to get as beat up as I would willingly allow. The more numb I was to feeling anything, the less I would register the feeling of the music that was acting in ways far more abusive than the mosh pit. Is this form of self-abuse not rife within our society? The self-bashing, judgement and comparison that we impose on ourselves. What about the impositions that society puts on us to be a certain way, look a certain way, and behave and perform in the stage show that is life? Again, the abuse may not be physical, but it certainly exists, and it is perhaps far more damaging in the long term than a bruise or a broken bone.
All of this may seem over-the-top or a complete exaggeration, but we only need to look at the state of health of the world to perhaps say that it is not. Even with the privileges of a developed nation, we are seeing anxiety, depression and suicide reaching alarming levels. In her article ‘Music to Die For’ published by The Conversation, Dianna Theadora Kenny, Professor of Psychology and Music at the University of Sydney, reports how a staggering 30% of deaths by suicide in the music scene are from punk and metal musicians, compared to all other genres. What is this saying about how life, the music, the mosh pit is an outplay of the abusive cycle that we find ourselves in and that we continually contribute to.
What if the people in the mosh pit could begin to support each other to stop the struggle? And the individuals floating on top came down and helped to deal with the mess, the entanglement, compression and pressure? What if instead of picking each other up when we fall, we start to ask ourselves why are we falling?
There is a way of living that lives free of the mosh pit yet is still engaged in life. It is called The Way of The Livingness. It is a religion, but not as metal music is to a metalhead. It is a religion in the true sense of the word, which means ‘to return’. A return to a very natural way of being that we have separated from. A way of being that fosters a love and connection with everyone around us, rather than an agreed to level of abuse that everyone is willing to tolerate.
The Way of The Livingness is a way of living that is true to our essence – a delicate tenderness with a quality of absolute love, joy and sensitivity. Sensitivity being the ability to feel everything around us, and from this there is a strength, for we can then choose what we allow to affect us based on our registered feelings.
We can choose to accept more love in our lives, more joy and harmony with everything around us, and we can say no to the abuse, judgement, and internal conflict. We no longer need to ride the mosh pit and experience its ups and downs.
We can simply be in life and observe it, knowing who we are and staying strong in that knowing.