Indy reaches out his hand to take the idol—but wait, he see’s the trap. He hastily fumbles some dust into a pouch, judges the weight and again reaches out. He quickly flips the bag into the place of the idol, which glints in his hand. For a moment, before the boulder rumbles, he is satisfied.
Indy hefts the bazooka. He sights the Ark of the Covenant and threatens to blow it up. If he really is only in this for the fortune and glory, then it should be an easy pull of the trigger. Belloq, his Nazi aligned rival, calls his bluff.
Keith gets an email on Facebook. It’s from Frank, the one time drummer of the one time band, Nothing Crucial, of which Keith had been the lead vocalist (and backing guitarist). Much like Dr. Marcus Brody who sent Indy on many adventures, Frank is seeking history. The prize? The lost albums of Nothing Crucial rescued from the crypts of cassette and displayed in digital format.
This is a dramatization of how my journey into my own personal history began. I became my own archeologist, discovered the riches at the end of the winding catacombs and unknowingly stumbled onto another potential Mindfulness practice for healthy living.
Indy, Cover Your Heart!
“While there are many definitions of mindfulness,” says lecturer, researcher and Mindfulness practitioner Dr. Amy Saltzman, “the definition I use…is: Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity.” (Saltzman, 2010) However, part of paying attention to your life “here and now” is doing an inventory of how you got here and what you’ve learned or lost up to now. “As human beings we have the unique capacity to pay attention to/be aware of our internal and external worlds and the interactions between the two…” Dr. Saltzman asserts, “This ability to pay attention is a natural, innate human capacity. One does not need to be Buddhist to pay attention in this way, any more than one needs to be Italian to enjoy pizza.”
For me, this practice had two distinct parts. Part one involved the actual gathering of the two albums and handful of photographs which remained of Nothing Crucial’s five or six year career. My inventory was literal and involved boxes, dust, phone calls and emails. But it also involved images; the weight of the guitar on my shoulder, entering Kloss Studios in Jenkintown, PA to drop of the data files or pick up our 300 fresh cassettes—feeling like a rock star—or what it felt like to be on stage, looking out over a half empty (often) or packed (rare, but it happened) room of kids dancing to your songs.
“Examining your life means understanding the personal history involved in your story or narrative, helping you establish and define your unique individual identity,” according to Dr. Eric Ryan of Santa Rosa Therapy, a prominent advocate of personal and therapeutic Mindfulness. The second part involved a much more introverted evaluation of personal history as I used two different audio programs to transfer the cassette recordings to MP3 files.
I put the cassette into the deck and the first notes of the song “Fragile Child” hit me. My first thoughts were positive; the coolness of the riff, the feel of the strings under my fingers bouncing, the many, many times we practiced it. Then other thoughts came flooding in; hands cramping after long shows, breaking strings in front of crowds—as I was notorious for, practicing for hours with a handful of wonderful moments. Drugs, drinking, nervous energy. Joy, fun and excitement married anxiety, extreme dedication, long hours and the hounded feeling that all this work will most likely only pay off in the moment.
Those in Dr. Saltzman’s program “reported increased mindfulness, decreased occupational stress, and increased work satisfaction from pre- to post-intervention. At the end of the program, 95% of participants said they would recommend the program…” (Saltzman, 2010) Sitting at my desk, awash in memories and birthing audio files, I had yet to find satisfaction. In fact, I was tossed back and forth on the positive to negative emotional spectrum much like a bouncing audio meter needle.
It’s Not About Fortune and Glory
There came a moment, while transferring files in my library, in which that changed. The needle finally stuck to one polarity. “Personal identity leads to a greater sense of integrity and even success,” Dr. Ryan asserts, and I found mine. (Ryan, 2012)
“Can I listen to you sing, Daddy?” She asked. She’d been next to me, at her own Step Two desk coloring My Little Pony for around an hour. I settled the headphones on her little ears after making sure this was a song without profanity.
New memories, mostly of dancing, laughing and the amazing (precious, rare) power of being inside music which was coming only from your own heart washed over me. The true value of being your Inner Indy lies not in fortune or glory, like even Belloq knew. The value is in understanding.
For a time I was that guy. Keith Karabin, frontman for Nothing Crucial; semi-passable guitarist and adequate vocalist who’s true talent was in songwriting and organizing the function of a group of musical dudes. For a time I was that guy, too. The guy who missed family events for practices and shows, the guy who smoked and drank too much, the guy who hungered more for the claps of disinterested bar patrons than good grades in college. The guy who, despite the bass player’s personal issues, the drummer’s “growing up” issues, and my own dream issues, couldn’t let the band go until Rob, our lead guitarist called the gas station where I worked and said, “I’m thinkin’ it’s time to put the kibosh on the band.”
I could find them all in my self, and here, on the other side of that life—without blame, just acceptance—I only had the profound feeling of “Yeah, I did that.” It felt good.
Then I remembered my daughter dancing and hastily returned her to the innocent pursuit of coloring My Little Pony. Four years old is a little early for a punk rock indoctrination.
Your Map With The Glowing Red Line
Well, many mindfulness folks use a timeline. “A Timeline…” says Dr. Ryan “is a detailed exercise to enhance self-awareness, self-definition, and promote your sense of personal identity. Also, by taking a really close look at your life and its direction, you may identify times where you got stuck that prevent you from moving forward.” (Ryan, 2012)
His article details how to build your own timeline and what to do with it once you have. Dr. Saltzman offers a great list of books on how to practice much deeper aspects of mindfulness and find relief to stress, increased personal focus and strength of self. You can click on both their sites as listed in the end notes below.
Much like Indiana Jones, I didn’t know I was going on this adventure until it happened. Now that the band page is up on Facebook, I’m starting to feel like the credits haven’t yet rolled so I can’t offer you a total resolution. But maybe that’s the way it should be. Mindfulness is not a task to complete, it’s a practice for life. I’ll never again be Keith, frontman of Nothing Crucial, but he’ll always be me.
Ryan, Eric PhD.(2012) Creating a Timeline for Growth, Healing & Development. Retrieved from http://docericryan.com/santa-rosa-mindfulness-depression-anxiety-therap/
Saltzman, Amy PhD. (2010) Mindfulness: A Teacher’s Guide. ContemplativeMind.org retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/thebuddha/teachers-guide/