Monday, April 25, 2005

The Wisdom of the Barn

"...I'm a rebel on a mission baby, to live and die by my smile."
-Ed Kowalczyk

So, I went to a party in a barn Saturdya night. Yes a barn. It was out in the middle of nowhere about 11 miles outside of Las Cruces next to a pecan orchard. It was great! There were about 300 people, food, beer, and some of the best bands in Las Cruces played (including one of my personal favorites, the Dead Rose Sinclair). However, even though I had a great time the significance of this party didn't really strike me until later that weekend when I was discussing it with a friend.

So what was the significance of the party, you ask? Well, the music scene is exploding right now in Las Cruces. On any night of the week you can see any of a number of local bands, of all genres, at any number of locations (bars, coffee shops, barns, etc.). Many of the groups even help to bring in bands from elsewhere just to help promote Las Cruces as an epicenter of indie rock. And one of the greatest things about it is that, for the most part, the bands in town are a pretty tight community (they even have a community website where you can find band info, shows, etc, called

But, while it is rather significant that the Las Cruces music community is turning itself into a hotbed of punk and indie music, that wasn't exactly what struck me about the party. What struck me about it was that they, as a community, have chosen to do this right here in the good old LC. They have realized what many of my closest friends and I have struggled with over the past several years, at various times. They have realized that more often then not, location is not nearly as important as attitude and approach. Any number of these bands could have decided to try to make a name for themselves by moving to a bigger city such as Austin, New York, or L.A. But they didn't. They decided to make the best of the community they have right here, and let the music world come to them.

Like I said, this holds a great deal of significance for me given the events of the past few years within my circle of friends. Recently, I went through a terrible breakup that I took very hard. Almost immediately the thought occurred to me that I should get the hell out of this town and start a new life. I was certain that that would solve all of my problems. But, upon reflection, I realized that it would not. I have seen numerous friends fall prey to this belief over the past few years. Luckily, most of them are now in a more happy and contented state of mind, but NONE of them attribute this to their current city of residence. All of them have told me that it has been a change in attitude in the face of adversity (dare I say life in general) that has ultimately brought about these changes in them.

From the perspective of psychology it is very common for we as humans to try to blame external forces when something bad happens or when we fail and we rarely have an initial reaction to a bad situation in which we blame ourselves outright, or at the very least, recognize our own amount of responsibility that ultimately led to our failure. I am not saying that we should constantly blame ourselves when something bad happens, but what I am saying is that wallowing in depression and cynicism won't help. We have to realize that this desire to move on is, more often then not, escapism, pure and simple. That is why simply changing locations hardly ever solves our problems. Of course we have to be mindful enough to realize when a situation is hopeless and cannot be resolved given the current circumstances. But the fact is that these circumstances rarely have to do with our locale and more often have to do with the mindsets of ourselves and those around us. We must realize our own faults and strengths and deal with them or use them accordingly. In these situations we have a choice, to remain cynical or to make the best of what we have and strive to make things better, ala the LC musicians.

I know this may be a weird analogy but that is the way my mind works and I think my point is fairly clear. While a new location may serve to give novelty to your life and to invigorate you in some way, there is still no guarantee of hapiness or success in your new location, especially given that usually the things that are making us unhappy or unsuccessful are internal and bare little if any relation to our physical location. Some people will choose to be miserable and negative about any situation or any location, and will move on thinking that that will solve their problem. It is up to us to see the value in our current situation and to make the most of it.


Blogger Nate J said...

J-man, good stuff! It would seem that your natural existentialism has finally come full circle and you have achieved a momentous moment of glorious truth. A shining light that will, no doubt, guide you through some choppy waters and into some horny chicks; with any luck at the same time. I have recently had a similar epiphany and I think I will write about it in my first blog entry.

I’m either going to love you or hate you for getting me into this blogging business. What am I saying? You know I would hold your hand as tightly and effeminately as President Bush clung to Prince Abdulah’s vile little claw. What a tough guy! Their necking session is sure to outsell the Paris Hilton’s video on-line.

Anyway, I should be at work, but I’m not and I don’t think I’m going back until later anyway. But that is besides the point because I only came home to get away from work and finish a resume.

J-man I will talk with you soon, brother. Till then give the bastards hell and if you take any shit be sure to sell it back at double the original asking price; it’s just good business sense.


8:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I have seen numerous friends fall prey to this belief over the past few years. Luckily, most of them are now in a more happy and contented state of mind, but NONE of them attribute this to their current city of residence. All of them have told me that it has been a change in attitude in the face of adversity (dare I say life in general) that has ultimately brought about these changes in them.

Hmm. I wouldn't quite say that I fell prey to this or that belief. :)

But, seriously, I think it's a little more messy than that. Granted, a miserable person will be miserable anywhere. We discussed this sort of person the other day. However, I wouldn't underestimate the value of a change of environment. Sometimes that can make someone approach things from a different angle.

Granted, one doesn't need to go somewhere new in order to bring about change in their life. But A) it sure speeds things along, and B) new experiences and surroundings are often beneficial in and of themselves.

I do not believe there is something particularly special about Minneapolis/St. Paul as opposed to other cities. I could have moved anywhere (indeed, I kind of wish I could have moved to someplace I was less familiar with). However, the process of building up a life in a new place is a valuable experience.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Citizen said...

It doesn't surprise me that LC is turning into a hotbed of indie music, honestly. It used to be a major concert venue, after all (may still be, I haven't lived there for four almost five years) and is a college town kind of in the middle of nowhere. Put those things together and you've got ripe conditions for small bands.

As for the whole location thing, I have to disagree somewhat. A miserable person will often be miserable wherever they are, but at the same time place and location - home, if you will - is such a part of who we are that a radical change in your surroundings is going to have impacts on your life. Maybe not in the long run, since we're creatures of habit, too, but definitely in the short term. Sometimes, that's all someone needs to jumpstart their mental state.

9:31 AM  
Blogger cczernia said...

I don't care what you say. I'm glad as hell I got out of LC and NM if not for the simple reason that my allergies drastically cleared up after leaving.

That is cool about LC and the indie music scene but I'll be convinced when bands start moving to Cruces to try and make a name for itself (and saying that they moved to Cruces from Clovis or Roswell doesn't count!)

9:59 AM  
Blogger Jason W said...

Admittedly I did not give enough credit to the freeing ability and exhiliration of just getting up and leaving. But it really is just a crap shoot and you shouldn't bank your fulfillment or happiness on it Changing locations will certainly have an effect on your psyche but there is no guarantee that the effect will be positive.

Also, the whole idea that a change of scenery will change things for the better will only work if you are willing to take some responsibility for your own well being *ahem, Chris* ("I feel like I have done this in San Diego and have successfully started a life here having gotten myself a job, a place to live, a decent wage, and health insurance mostly on my own."). I would just like to submit for the record the fact that I have done all of these things in *gasp* Las Cruces. But I would also like to point out that these things alone did not make me happy. (Sorry Chris, didn't mean to pick on you but the post quoted above in some ways influenced some of the ideas in my own post.)

2:16 PM  
Blogger cczernia said...

For the most part I agree with you. And if comes mostly with the trapping of growing up in a place. That is to say that no matter what happened to me in Cruces I would have been miserable.

And you are correct because Maya was even more eager to get out of Cruces and thought San Diego would be perfect for her (a psychic even told her that she would thrive in SD but it wouldn't be any good for me :P ). Howerver, SD has made her miserable and now she is joining the Peace Corp.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Gunaikos said...

Maybe it's because I'm a military brat, or maybe it's because I like the idea of redefining myself and starting over. It's refreshing to move to a new place. It makes me feel like I can approach people and relationships in a new way and I won't be judged, or looked at strangely by familiar onlookers. I also have to say, I find the idea of boxing up all my crap and shoving it into a big van exhilarating. It's the sense of freedom I feel. Like I can go anywhere, and do anything, and I'm the one steering the vehicle. When I packed up my car and moved away, it empowered me. It made me sure of my independence, and my own personal strength and courage. I enjoy living my life as if it were an allegory. I also like a change of scene. I've been sitting in this cube of mine for almost 4 years now, and I can't tell you how many times I've rearranged my 8ft by 8ft space to help squelch my feelings of restlessness.

Unlike Chris, I didn't grow up in LC, but I consider it home. I have mixed feelings about returning. On the one hand I miss those mountains, clear skies, fantastic sunsets and the laid back culture. But on the other hand, the city feels too small for me and my past, I run into old haunts around every turn.

I have family there, and it inspires the idea that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to gather some courage to go back, redefined, and face the ghosts of my past while looking into the bright sun of my future. But I fear my new life has its own set of parameters that currently don't make this even an option. Hopefully someday, I'll make my way back into the sun.

12:41 PM  
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1:16 PM  

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