Sunday, August 25, 2013

Skydiving Post #2 (What was going through my head)

So this will be another post about skydiving and what goes through your head and how your body reacts to the sensation. Honestly, it is difficult for me to stop talking about this because it is the single greatest feeling I have ever experienced.

There is a really a series of emotions that are going on leading up to, during and after a successful skydive.

The night before was probably the most uncertain I have felt in my life. I kept thinking about how I could get out of doing it without looking like I was afraid. And honestly this is nothing to be ashamed of as it is jumping out of an airplane. And for all the safety measures taken, it is still a very dangerous activity. Which would probably make people ask why other people do it?

I imagine the answer is different for everyone when they are asked why they do something that can be fatal if something goes wrong. Most people don't intentionally do things that can be fatal if something goes wrong. And let's face facts, skydiving fatalities are not pleasant. Death would most likely be instantaneous upon impact (if you're lucky) but it certainly is going to be messy. That being said, the truth is there is probably no simple answer as to why people skydive. I can't honestly say why I did the first time. I say first time because I know why I want to do it again. Because it was so much fun and such an amazing feeling.

But  back to the night before, I had the thought going through my head that I could die tomorrow and what that might mean for my friends and family. And honestly, death was not something I was ready to accept. Once I got that out of my system, I went to bed and probably slept the most calmly I have ever slept in my life. There was a feeling of contentment present that had not been before. And also probably because I wanted to be well rested and very alert during the actual skydive and I think on some level my body knew that because my brain was telling it that was what needed to be done.

So then came the morning I went for the skydive. I ate breakfast and had been chugging lots of water so as to avoid any possible dehydration. Just prior to heading to the drop zone, I ate an apple just to keep something in my stomach since breakfast had been about a couple hours prior and my metabolism is so insanely high. The previous nights fear gave way to anxiousness, but no so much of an nervous anxiousness but an eager anxiousness. Part of me was excited and the other part of me wanted it to be over.

So I get to the drop zone which is really a five minute drive from my house and check in at the desk. I am then taken to a little room to watch a video about what the skydive will feel like and various instructions that I need to follow. The video I guess was about 30 minutes. After watching the video, I had to read and sign several legal forms that acknowledged I knew what I was about to do was very risky and could be fatal. I also had to sign my life away essentially. What this means is that if I died, the drop zone would not be held responsible in the possibility of equipment failure that resulted in my death. If there was a moment that I was going to back out, this was that moment. It is one thing to know what you are about to do can be fatal, but to have it spelled out for you on a piece of paper and acknowledge it by signing your name can be one of the toughest decisions to make.

So I go back to the desk and give them the signed forms and they tell me that my name will appear on a whiteboard shortly with the name of tandem master. I went to the bathroom a lot while waiting because I had drank so much water and honestly I was really not wanting to pee myself when jumping out of a plane. So then the whiteboard shows up with my name and my instructor Joe. I ran to the bathroom one more time just to be sure.

When I came back out, I met up with Joe and he strapped me into the harness. Which was nerve wracking because it fit really loose. Don't get me wrong, it was tight as it could be but it was still loose. There were two major concerns I had about doing this. I was less concerned with parachute failure and hitting the ground and more concerned with slipping out of the harness or my lungs collapsing due to the sudden rush of air that would be forced into my chest. This has been known to happen because I researched prior to the jump which is likely why I had a fear of that happening.

So I am in the harness and Joe has the rig on which contains the parachute and we wait. And we just sort of idly chatted a bit and talked and maybe got to know a few things about each other. After all, this is the guy I am trusting to save my life. At this point, he is my best friend!! He commented on how I was not nervous at all and I told him how I got that out of my system the night before and now I was just ready to go.

So now my cameraman Mico who is going to document this whole thing for me introduces himself and he interviews me before we get in the plane. It is nerve wracking to have someone ask you if there is anything you would like to say to friends and family when you are about to jump out of an airplane. Because this could be the last thing you get to say to them. 

After the interview, Joe gives me a rundown of what to do once we are in the plane and what to do on exit of the aircraft. He will repeat this several times during the flight to make sure it is drilled into my head. As I get into the plane, I begin to start about how I am getting out of the plane. By this point, I am no longer thinking about backing out. I came this far so my thought was I am going to do this and go all the way. The plane ride up was strangely calm. It was though I had accepted what I was about to do and on some level accepted that I could die doing this. There is a tranquil feeling in that which is really difficult to describe.

So as we reach about 7,000 feet and Joe begins strapping me to his harness and all the looseness of my harness goes away and suddenly becomes super tight!! There was no getting out of this thing, slipping out or otherwise. After I am all hooked up to Joe, he goes over the instructions one more time and gives me my goggles to wear during the skydive.  So we are now at jump altitude which is 13,500 feet and they open the door of the plane.  The wind suddenly rushes in and feel a sudden burst of excitement and fear. I can see the ground and the clouds. I've flown in a plane before but never with a door open so this was a strange new experience. 

One jumper looks out and observes the sky for a minute or two which I am guess is checking to see if it is safe to jump. Then they start jumping out. There were four jumpers ahead of me and they all go out. I think this is the coolest damned thing I've ever seen. They fall so fast they were out of view in a matter of seconds. Then it is my turn! MOMENT OF TRUTH!

I start inching slowly towards the door sliding on my butt as Joe instructed me to do and BOOM, the plane hit some turbulence and almost turned on it's side. I AM AT THE DOOR!! If Joe had not been holding on to the rail, we would have likely gone out! This is when I am having second thoughts and thinking maybe this is a sign I should not be doing this. Joe informs that we will circle back around and try again. So we start moving back away from the door. After a minute, we are ready to go again and start moving towards the door once more. Mico, my cameraman climbs to the outside of the plane and just hangs there. Joe and I get to the door. I look down and see my shoes hanging into nothing. I then look at Mico, and then I feel I slight push and suddenly I am out in the open air.

This felt like being hit with a ton of bricks!! And I'm terrified!! It's cold up there, I'm falling through the sky and the only thought going through my mind is 'I'm going to die'. I was very convinced I was going to die! In a matter of minutes my life will be over. And I'm scared out of mind. I have no idea what to do. There was nothing I could do at this point. One way or another, I am going to touch the ground either violently or softly. And my one of my biggest fears is starting to be realized because the air is rushing into my mouth so quickly that I'm using every ounce of my strength to force it back out. 


And while I am still convinced that I'm going to die, I suddenly don't care or worry about it at all anymore. At this point I am having the time of my life. I am Superman at this point. I could fight a bull and win just because of the adrenaline coursing through my veins. My arms are out there in the wind, I'm making all sorts of funny gestures to Mico who is now about 6 feet away from my face. And I was just enjoying every minute of it and loving the experience of free falling at 120 miles per hour. Then I see Mico start increasing his distance from me and I'm not even thinking about that I am strapped to Joe. Then I feel a sudden tug on my body and I'm upright again and no longer in free fall. The loudness of the wind has given way to the most quiet sound in the world. It is insanely quiet! That is the most quiet I've ever heard anything in my life. And I'm just loving it!! It takes a minute or two for me to even realize the parachute opened and I am now floating safely back to the earth.

There is no better way to describe it than I am at total peace. I am unattached from everything but the sky and have the most amazing view that anyone could ever hope to have. I can see my town while hanging in a harness strapped to a fabric designed to slow my descent. I can look down and see my feet hanging into open space and it is the best feeling on earth! There are no more worries or concerns but just pure contentment. And we slowly begin approaching the ground which I did not even notice was getting closer until it was right up on me. And we floated safely to the ground and slid in on our butts and my feet were back on the ground safely and I lived to tell the tale. But my head was in the clouds. And it remains there. There is something about skydiving that is the ultimate in fear and the ultimate knowing peace. Nothing matters when you are up there but you and the sky. I was completely free for 6 amazing minutes. No worries, no pain, nothing is wrong. Everything is right and absolutely as it should be and the closet to perfection anyone could ever become. There is a peace in that can never be explained and the best understanding of everything and the perfect moment of clarity. Falling from the sky and floating safely back to the earth is for me the truest form of everything making sense.

And after that, there is the realization that if I can jump out of an airplane, there is nothing I can't do.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Touching the sky!!

So I deleted this blog and have undeleted it to maybe start it back up again. The reason it was deleted is because what the original intent of the blog was has changed dramatically. The reason why it has changed dramatically is because on some level my life has changed dramatically. In the sense that I have given up on thinking I have my life figured out or what I am going to do with it personally and professionally.

So let's go over the events of the 2013 that have lead me to where I am now.  The year started off rather scary with the discovery of a tumor on my ear that thankfully turned out to be benign. I've never been a person who has been afraid of dying and frankly have been closer to it than most people will ever be in their lives. But if I do not fear dying the one thing I do fear is how I will die. That is something that always stuck with me and a tumor that could be cancerous was not high up on my list of ways to die. At least that is what I thought. Strangely when I was first told about the tumor, I really was not afraid of it as much as I thought I would be. I really had not thought of what would happen if it was cancer and what that might mean for me in regards to my health.

It was almost as though I had accepted my fate and the possible outcome. Now this was 4 months from going on a trip to Rome that I was very much looking forward to and the thought of not going due to something that was out of my control like a potential life threatening illness was not something I could take. So if anything when I found after the removal and biopsy of the tumor that it was benign I breathed a sigh of relief. Not because I was not going to become incredibly ill but because I was not going to live to keep doing things I wanted to do that I had put off for far too long.

Now I have had my share of life changing experiences but most of them began to fade with time and as people often do they sink back into complacency. Getting a tumor was not the shock out of complacency that most people would think it would be.

So what was?

Something that I've always wanted to do but honestly never really had the courage to do. Skydiving. This was one of those things that I always talked about wanting to do but was probably never going to actually do it. Sure talking about it sounded cool but I knew in the back of my mind I would never actually do it. That was until one day when I just decided to go for it. It was like the perfect chain of events and all pushed me right to it.

It's hard to express what it feels like, but I will spare the aspect of the science of it and yes there is a science to it as far as how you position your body so you are not spinning out of control. But that is where I leave the science and the physics of it behind.

The feeling is what is important. That is the moment and the ONLY moment in my entire life that I ever felt truly free!! Falling towards the earth at 120 miles an hour is terrifying and thrilling all in the same moment. It's rare that people can experience utter fear and exhilaration together. And the freedom it brings!!

Skydiving is truly a great way to have the single most incredible moment of clarity! You aren't think about anything in your life that may be going wrong or even right. You are only thinking about that you are falling through the sky. And once the adrenaline kicks in, the fact that you could die doing it no longer matters. It is one thing to be afraid of dying and it is another to do something willingly that could kill you and no longer find it terrifying. That is the most intense 45 seconds anyone could ever experience. And then that chute opens and what was once loud rushing wind racing past you has no become the most peaceful and quiet sound there is to hear!! 5000 feet off the ground and floating back safely under a parachute is the most peace I imagine anyone could feel. And when your feet touch the ground and you land, there is no feeling like knowing that you did something that should have killed you and you lived to tell the tale.

What I have gathered is that most people look at skydivers and feel they some sort of death wish. After having done it, that could not be further from the truth! Skydivers have a life wish! That is the most alive I've ever felt and it lasted for weeks!! I can never explain why I felt that way but it is what it is. Some could call it the adrenaline and all the energy that comes from jumping out of a plane. And there is a lot of energy that will be present after jumping and landing safely. But really it is the feeling. It is the feeling of touching the sky and the absolute freedom you have in your life when you are in freefall. The peaceful feeling comes not from the quiet sound under the parachute but from the realization that have you freed yourself from all the boundaries, limitations and learned to truly let go and not worry about the things that are not in your control. Life is always something to be lived, enjoyed, cherished, and when your time is up... it is better to look back on it with a sense of accomplishment rather than regret. 

So that is why I have realized that I am no longer thinking I have my life figured out on a perfect little road map. It is going to be chaotic, out of control, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, but it will be a worthwhile to me and without regrets. I always used to tell people that the only certainty in life is that one day we will all die. But I never really believed it myself.  I always thought that everything I want to happen will happen. But now I realize maybe for the first time that I won't get everything I want out of life. But for everything I do get out of life will not make it any less of a life because of the things I did not get. And oddly it took putting my life in real danger and jeopardy to finally understand that. And from this day forward I will always be looking at my life at all the things I accomplished and not focus on the failures and the things I did not get.

I have touched the great blue sky and will always be touching the sky! :-)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Getting Lost in Rome

      So I have not updated this blog for a while and had the intent to make a post about my trip to Rome. Though I did not right away because I think I needed some time to process everything and write a worthy post about the trip. I could go and write absolutely everything I could about what I saw when I was there but I feel that would be a disservice to the experience and could only do this properly by talking about how I felt about it instead.

So where do I start?

     I’ll start with the telling that going to Rome was something that I had always wanted to do in my lifetime. For as long as I can remember, Rome is the city I was always the most interested in even as a child. I saw films featuring Rome and pictures of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine and it was difficult to imagine even as a child that a place like this really existed in the world. It was even more difficult as a child and probably more so as an adult to fully understand the depth of the history of this remarkable city. This passion to go to Rome was fueled even more when becoming an art student but it was still just a dream. A dream I thought unattainable. I never imagined I would really go anywhere outside the comforts of the state I live in for the most part. I had been to a few places in the U.S. for sure but flying over the ocean to a country I knew nothing about was not something I could truly fathom ever occurring.

     And I really knew nothing about what I was going to see and experience when arriving in Rome. I had read books, knew the history of the Roman Empire, did as much studying of the culture and it still did not prepare me for what I was walking into when I stepped off that plane. It really was a feeling of not being in Kansas anymore. As soon as I stepped off the plane and into the terminal I had no clue what to do or where to go or how to get out of the airport. The airport in Rome is like the city, a maze that is difficult to navigate. But that is what was great and could have summed up the entire trip.  I had no clue what I was doing in that city and it was great. I just went with it and had the most amazing time.

     I have heard it said many times the best way to take yourself out of the comfort zone is to travel to a foreign country. And I agree. There is no better way for all the things you think you know and all the things you don’t know and all the things you want to know to meet in one big collision. My first days in Rome could be summed up as absolute confusion. I just tried to find my way around and not stick out like a sore thumb. The last thing I wanted to do was look like a tourist. I genuinely wanted to immerse myself in this culture and be a part of it through experience. I did not want Italians to look at me and see the “American tourist”. I wanted Italians to look at me and see someone who respected their history and wanted to truly know about their city and culture. And I feel on some level that it is how they felt towards me. I was not afraid to ask questions, I tried to use their language as much as possible when I could, and I felt they knew I was genuinely interested in what they had to say. And I loved that because of my interest I was able to learn about and see many places that were off the beaten path that tourists don’t see.

     Don’t get me wrong, seeing The Vatican and the Colosseum is amazing but my biggest memories are going to come from standing on Aventine Hill and looking out over the city. Or standing in a circle of ancient ruins that has a keyhole in a single door and when looking through that keyhole shows St. Peter’s Basilica as it is directly in the line of sight of the keyhole. Something I would never have known about had I not conversed with the people who live in this beautiful city. Sure I was a tourist as clearly demonstrated by the camera around my neck but I did not want to see this city. I wanted to get to know this city like I would a new friend met purely by chance.  This is really how I found myself in Rome and having this wonderful experience to talk about because nothing was planned.

     This decision was made literally in the space of a few minutes after some encouragement from an instructor and realization that if I did not go I would regret it for the rest of my life. And so I found myself in Rome and had no clue what I was doing. My first thoughts of being in the city were ‘what do I do now?’ or ‘where do I go?’ And I had no idea. Here I was in this unfamiliar city on my own and all I knew was I’m here for two weeks. And by unfamiliar, I mean really unfamiliar. The way things are in Rome were so vastly different than anything in the United States I did not even know where to begin. So I did the only thing I could do...  I put my bags in my hotel room, nervously walked out on to Ancient Roman cobblestone streets and got lost!! And it was perfect.

     There was only really minimal planning involved as to what I was going to do when I got into the heart of Rome. I knew I wanted to see Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, Roman Forum, The Pantheon, and The Vatican. But not a single one of these places was seen without seeing amazing things on paths I had not planned on taking to these destinations. Even Trevi Fountain was seen because I simply got lost on the way back to my hotel. Not a one of these things were seen without encountering a chatty Italian who just wanted to talk to this strange person who clearly was clueless about where they were going. Not a one of these things were done without multiple Vespa riders coming close to hitting me as they navigated the winding streets of Rome. Not a one of these things were done without hearing street musicians or seeing horse carriages circling the fountains in the Piazza’s.

     These are all the things I will remember about going to Rome. Because at the end of the day after seeing all the sights and learning more about the history, it will be the experience and how I felt that will stick with me until the day I die. It will be the lack of planning, the cluelessness and being lost, and the nervousness of being in a place of which I was not familiar. It will be the memory I had at the end of the trip of knowing that I had learned so much of which I really never thought about learning. It will be the memory of knowing that by the end of the trip, I was finally starting to understand the culture and embrace it, it will be the memory of knowing that I had finally after two weeks had begun to get lost a little less and less. It will be the memory of knowing that Rome came to be a really good friend that I can’t wait to see again. And that by the end of the trip and before, the nervousness faded into a relaxed calm and I found myself doing something that I always wanted to do but never thought I ever would. I challenged myself and went into something completely unknown and came out with wider eyes and a bigger understanding of who I am and who I want to be.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hail to the King Baby! (spoiler warning)

So I have once again been neglecting my blog and I am going to write about something near and dear to my heart. Evil Dead or the remake of the original The Evil Dead. Though I would say it is not really a remake as it is a re-imagining and feels more like a sequel rather than a remake.

So I like many fans of the original Evil Dead films was concerned about there being a remake cause I really hate remakes. They usually suck and are really just a way for the lack of originality currently plaguing Hollywood to run rampant. This is extremely common with horror films. Some examples of which include The Thing, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. All classic horror films that were remade and absolutely sucked and should have been left alone.

So naturally hearing about an Evil Dead remake was met with some trepidation on my part. I just knew that this movie was going to suck and how dare someone even think of remaking the mother of all horror films in my humble opinion. But I can honestly say that was pleasantly surprised and thrilled. This movie does deserve and earn the name of Evil Dead.

The film starts with the same premise as the original Evil Dead of 5 friends going to a cabin for the weekend. Unlike the original Evil Dead though, a purpose is actually given as to why they are going to this cabin. In this film, they are there to help their friend Mia kick a heroin habit cold turkey. The plot of the film beyond this is really not the different from the original. They discover some scary shit in the cellar and a book of incantations for giving a demonic force the ability to possess the living. Naturally one of the five friends is curious and very foolishly reads the book and unleashes the demonic force.

Mia now fully in the throws of withdraw wants nothing more to leave the cabin which she attempts to do on her own when her 3 friends and brother refuse to let her leave. She is attacked in the woods by the demonic force in a horribly brutal way that is the same (though a little less brutal in the remake) as the original and becomes possessed. She is taken back to the cabin with her companions still believing her to be going through heroin withdraw which would be a good reason for  her advancing state of psychosis.

Once Mia becomes fully possessed, all hell breaks loose. And Evil Dead becomes what it is meant to be, a 97 minute gore fest.

Now I say that it becomes what is meant to be because I have seen the complaints about the film and how there is no story or character development. And these are complaints coming from hardcore Evil Dead fans just like me. And it just makes me think they are forgetting what the original Evil Dead was as a film. The original had very little plot and no character development. It was literally just a gore fest and was not meant to be anything more than that. That was part of what it made it so much fun. And the same is done for the remake. That is what I want as a fan of this series.

None of the characters are spared from being brutally attacked and becoming possessed just like Mia. Deadite (as the possessed are called in Evil Dead) Mia is killing off her friends one by one just like Ash's sister Cheryl did in the original when she became possessed. And of course this done in absolutely grotesque and stomach turning fashion. I have a strong stomach but there was even a brief moment when even I cringed at the sight of one of these gory scenes.

I have also seen the complaints that this film lacks the humor of the original which I find equally as wrong as complaining about the lack of story and character development. The original film had no humor either and was not intended to be funny. It was not until Evil Dead 2 which is more of a remake of the original than the 2013 Evil Dead film that humor was introduced. And that humor became even larger in Army of Darkness or as it was originally titled The Medieval Dead.

Evil Dead does work as it's own stand alone film in the series and also an excellent addition to the series. It is a great film if a person goes into it knowing what to expect. Lots of gore and brutality and just a simple idea that is plainly fun movie going. Now I'm sure not everyone would say this is their idea of a fun movie, but for horror movie fans, it is a very fun movie and at times can be humorous. Even though it is a more uncomfortable humor because it does make one wonder if it is appropriate to laugh. But humor none the less.

So my overall thoughts on Evil Dead are it is a good movie for just having some fun at a movie if you are into horror films. And while I feel that it is important for movies to have a strong plot and character development, sometimes seeing a film without these things and just getting right to the bare bones of what the movie is about is a really great movie going experience. So with that I say Evil Dead did everything it set out to do and did it in true over the top Evil Dead fashion. And I'm thrilled to say this will be put in my film collection right along side, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A touching tribute

So I have not posted here for a while cause I have not really had a whole lot to say. And it is a sad chain of events that brought me back to post something which I wish were not the case. By now everyone has heard about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school. I had this whole long post planned about the things that really need to change in this country so this does not happen anymore. I've felt at a loss over what happened because it was children even though I am not directly a part of this tragedy. And I felt anger, sadness, and grief. And it's tough to look at the pictures of the children. And I had this whole post planned and I think it is better just to save it for another day.

I'm not a religious person by any means but when something like this happens to children, I would really like to believe that there is something out there.

And I found this touching tribute and I thought I would share it here rather than going on a rant.

Rest in Peace little children 

And Rest in Peace to your adult protectors



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SIGGRAPH 2012 - Retrospective

So normally when I do my blog posts about SIGGRAPH I go through a rundown of all the awesome things that happened during the week.

This time I am going to do something a little different. Rather than talk about all the cool things I saw and did, I'm going to talk about the experience and what I learned this year. Because that is so much more important.

Most people who know me and know me well are aware that I am a stickler for organization and planning. I like to know exactly what is going to happen and when and where. But this year that all went out the window.

Of everything I had planned to do this year, only about 10% of it actually happened. Where as with year's past I did close to 90% of everything I had planned.

But that was not a bad thing. Because I got so much more out of just letting random things happen that I would have with the planning.

Everything is a learning experience in my eyes and this year I walked away from SIGGRAPH far more fulfilled than I did in 2010 and 2011. And it all mostly happened by chance and the unexpected. That is the real point.

What is great about SIGGRAPH is not the parties you went to or the talks you saw but the people. The friends you make and the bonds you form.

This year some of those bonds were tested, some were likely broken completely. While some grew stronger.
Some of the people I have met through SIGGRAPH may be lifelong friends. Other's may not even be there next year. Some may eventually fade as years pass. But this is how it goes.

This is what I learned this year. That nothing can be controlled. Life just has to happen and to let it happen as it is supposed to happen.

Forget all the planning, the fears of success or failure, the inhibitions, and just let go and let everything happen how it is meant to occur.  Just say to hell with it and live life.

Because for all the things I planned to do this year, it is all the things I did not plan for, all the unexpected things that I will remember the most. Those are the stories I am going to tell until the day I am no longer here.

So that is how I feel at the end of this year's SIGGRAPH. This is what I will take away from it. The experience is what matters most. And this is why this has been the best SIGGRAPH I have attended so far.

And I can't wait to go back next year. Whether or not I return as a volunteer or an attendee is a decision I have not made yet. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. But the one thing I do know is I can't wait to see my friends again and see what experiences I will have next year. And the stories to tell when it is over.

That is what I miss the most. The experience of it all and my friends (new and old) who I can only hope will find their way back.

And to end with a quote from of my favorite films and books

"stop trying to control everything and just let go"

So until next year....

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In perfect isolation here behind my wall

So this past Monday night I saw the one concert that I always wanted to see and never thought in a million years I would see. The Wall performed live in it's entirety by Roger Waters. The last time Roger Waters performed this show prior to the current tour was in 1991 not long after the Berlin Wall came down.  That show was played Potsdamer Platz in the no man's land where the Berlin Wall separated the East and West. After that show, it was thought that Roger Waters would never play The Wall again. Thankfully he has taken it back on the road and I finally got to see this show.  Now for those who don't know, Roger Waters is one of the founding members of Pink Floyd and The Wall is largely based on Water's life.

Now as fan of Pink Floyd, I have pretty much enjoyed anything they do but The Wall itself is the album to which I relate to the most as a person who suffers from a mental disorder and knows what's like to completely suffer a breakdown.

So what is The Wall all about. The Wall itself serves as a metaphor for the walls that people put up to protect themselves from emotional or mental harm from others. The story of The Wall is essentially about the disintegration of a rock star as he isolates himself in a hotel room and is driven to madness when he reflects on his life. This ultimately culminates in his total psychotic breakdown in which he envisions himself as a dictator over his audience and exacts his warped violent ideals on to his audience.

But The Wall while it does focus on one man going mad, the themes are much broader which is something that Water's himself as stressed as being about the self imposed isolation of humanity and how it leads to wars and other detestable acts of violence. The political and religious ideals that create these wars are riddled throughout the performance of The Wall and photos of the victims of all these wars were projected on individual bricks during the show. Of course The Wall was built between the audience and the stage during the course of the show. And was subsequently torn down as the show came to an end.

What was very prevalent was Water's dedication to the material and subject matter and the point he wanted to get across to the fans. That we must tear down our own walls to move forward as a species on this planet. That "fear builds walls" and that we must not succumb to those fears. The show itself ends in dramatic fashion with the audience chanting over and over "tear down the wall".

Now it goes without saying this was the most emotionally gut wrenching show I have ever seen. It starts off much like the album with a fascist rally during the song In the Flesh?

After the song, the show now takes a step backward and begins showing the character of Pink and his descent into madness. During the course of The Thin Ice, photos are shown of all the people who have been killed during the course of foreign wars.

 After this, Another Brick in the Wall Part 1 is played which deals directly with the death of Water's father during WWII. Next the show erupts with the Happiest Days of Our Lives and Another Brick in the Wall Part 2. After which this commentary on sadistic teachers (we have all had them at some point) ends, it gets quiet again during the songs Mother and Goodby Blue Sky. During the former Water's sings very poignantly "mother, should I build the wall?"

Now the show begins to focus on the next bricks in The Wall. The adultery committed by the character Pink's wife. What is noticeable about all this is that the adultery is a result of Pink's self imposed isolation.
The song Empty Spaces deals with his hurt over this and Young Lust is strange act of revenge by thinking he must be with someone else. But even his isolation cannot allow him to feel for this other person which builds into a violent outburst during the song One of my Turns. It is only during the song Don't Leave me Now that he expresses some sort of guilt, but this guilt soon turns to further cement his isolation behind this metaphorical wall. The show then erupts again with Another Brick in the Wall Part 3 in which Water's angrily sings "Don't think I need anyone at all". This is final step towards isolation and alienation. During the course of Goodbye Cruel World, there is only one brick left to place within the Wall which Water's stands behind as he painfully sings this song.

So after a brief intermission, the second half of the show starts with the band and Water's now completely separated by this large wall built across the front of the stage. The songs Hey You and Is There Anybody Out There? play with only the wall being seen by the audience and spotlights shining on them as though Water's is looking for someone to help in a last bit of desperation as he is now fully behind his wall.

During the course of Nobody Home, a small opening in The Wall reveals Water's in a mock hotel room singing about the things he has experienced and his failed attempts to escape his isolation. This then leads to the most emotional tear jerking portion of the show during the songs Vera and Bring the Boys back Home in which Water's again sings of the horrors of war and the effect it had on his life. But he puts a much more universal spin on it this time around and shows how it applies to everyone changed by war, for better or worse.

What was particularly poignant about this sequence in the show were the projections of soldiers fighting in the so called "war on terror' being reunited with their loved ones. And the plea from Water's and the audience to bring all these soldiers back home.

After this portion of the show, the focus then comes back to the central character who now lies in a comatose state after the apparent mental breakdown and building of the wall. The song Comfortably Numb focuses entirely on the attempts to revive the character and keep him "going through the show". Water's is now performing in front of The Wall as he sings the verses to the song and the music builds as the character comes around is about to begin his full descent into psychotic behavior.

It is here now that a "surrogate band' sings The Show Must Go On just before everything erupts into absolute chaos. The character now fully revived but still feeling the effects of the drugs used to bring him from his comatose state have him now hallucinating as a dictator over his audience and exacting his previously mentioned hate filled ideals on the crowd in mock fascist rally which bears striking resemblance to Nazi Germany.

This fascist portion of the show occurs during the songs In the Flesh, Run Like Hell, and Waiting for the Worms. It is during this moment of the show that Water's pulls no punches and goes for the throat. This is the point in which everything that has been building reaches it's climax and the hatred born from fear is let loose on the crowd. Water's very loudly proclaims "if I had my way, I'd have all of you shot". There is no hesitation from Water's as he sings what could be considered some of the most provocative lyrics in rock music.

As these songs reach their end, the fascist hallucination of the character is over and he now asks himself during the song Stop, 'has he been guilty all this time?" This sets up the next song The Trial in which the character puts himself on trial inside his own mind and he plays out the characters of his wife, mother, schoolmaster, prosecutor, judge and himself. Playing the role of the judge in his mind, he declares he must be "exposed before his peers" and the audience following the lead from Water's begins chanting "tear down the wall".

It is here the show culminates with the wall that was built during the course of the show being knocked down which could be best described as like a bomb going off. It was loud and dust and smoke was kicked up everywhere as the wall came down and the audience once again had view of the stage.

After this, the band and Water's stand in front of the stage as they sing the final song Outside the Wall. The fate of the character and what happened after the wall is torn down and is left intentionally unspoken. It is never stated whether his madness completely consumed him and or he recovered from his traumatic life that led to his eventual emotional collapse. But in true Water's fashion, he left some form of hope for the character and the audience with one final image of silhouette of a girl waving her arms.

So why such a long post about this?

Because other than this being the one concert that I always wanted to see, it also the best representation of this little thing we call the human condition. There are lessons to be learned from The Wall about our own humanity. That our own fear will lead to atrocities and that we must not isolate ourselves from each other. That we must genuinely care for each other and not allow ourselves to hide behind our own walls due to whatever fears we may have.