Stairway To Heaven

In The Court Of The Crimson KingI’ve had a wonderful time today reliving my teenage years, listening to Led Zeppelin whilst enjoying more sunshine lying on the balcony. Each and every song hold memories of years gone by.

Zeppelin were one of the first supergroups and I was a huge fan back in those days. Along with groups like Cream, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, they wrote the soundtrack to my youth. I could name many, many others, but the list would fill the page.

Things were very different back then. An Afghan was an embroidered shaggy coat that smelt awful when it got wet, not what it means today. A trip to Oasis in the old Bull Ring was always an adventure filled with Loons, Tie-Dye T shirts, Joss sticks and psychedelic cheesecloth.  My first live concert was at the Town Hall in Birmingham in 1969. It cost 6/- (six shillings), 30p in today’s money, and I watched Genesis, Lindisfarne and Van der Graff Generator on their first tour and soaked up every last note with my mate Martin Loake.

But listening to the music today, some 45 years after I heard it the first time, revived memories in a way that only certain smells can emulate. I say smells, because in my case, the smell of steam engines takes me right back to childhood holidays in Margate. Each morning, or so I recall, my grandfather took me to the shunting yards to watch the tank engines arranging the commuter coaches into the trains for people to get to work. One whiff of coal smoke and oily steam, and I can see it all so clearly.

The music took me back to school days. Long hair, those loons, tie-dye T shirts and evenings spent in my bedroom with the commandeered family PYE gramophone, and a reel to reel tape recorder blasting out the latest Progressive Rock tracks. I was supposed to be studying, or doing homework, but all I can remember is trying to pick out the chords on my six string and practicing riffs. No wonder my exam results suffered.

As those memories came flooding back, it got me thinking about how wonderful it would be if we could recall events from our past lives. I have been through past life regression sessions in the past, with some interesting results, but that’s not quite what I mean.

My life has been a cycle of repeated events, some good, others not so good, but the cycle is quite clear. Finally I have seen the light, I’m taking steps to avoid another cycle and trying to learn from past mistakes.

My Buddhist Practice, and particularly the study of Karma, have made me look at the past in a different way. I now realise that I created the causes for that cycle to repeat and by stopping doing that my life will change course forever. It can be a painful realisation, seeing where you have been going wrong all these years, but not as painful as going on the way I had.

Life has changed, I have changed, and the music is as brilliant as it ever was.

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