Rise Up

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There's a saying in voodoo culture - everything is poison, nothing is poison. It's all in how you use it.

ONE

      I was surrounded by air. That's it. I wasn't experiencing any floating or falling sensations, I was just there, and there was nothing around me. There was no space or sky or earth or horizon of any kind. I wasn't uncomfortable, it was just unnerving. I was poised to react to some outside influence, but there was nothing. So I waited...and there was just air.

      After a while I began to hear a shallow echo. It was so distant I couldn't recognize the sound. It got louder but I still couldn't tell what it was. But I knew I didn't like it. It was urging me, pulling me from the air in the middle of nowhere. I didn't want to go but at least it was something. It tugged and I was yanked towards it.

      The clock/radio came on somewhere in the middle of the song Rise Up. The DJ probably thought it appropriate for a morning show due to the chorus, which is a repetition of the title, cheerfully chanted by the oversized band. I don't think the song is appropriate for any occasion, especially radio play at 6:50AM. The tune's computer generated steel drums sounded off as I searched for the sleep button. The morning's summer sun was wide awake. Its light making it hard for me to open my eyes. I brushed my fingers in the area of my bedside table until I touched plastic. From there I did exactly what I do five times a week. The music isn't always that bad. Even with the sun blinding my eyes, and the sound of buzzing in my ears, I found the button with instinctual accuracy. I depressed the sleep selector silencing the Parachute Club and ending my early morning misery.

      The day started in the wrong key, but I wasn't going to let that little incident set the tone. It was Friday and I wouldn't have to force myself awake for another 72 hours. That made the whole day easier. And things that would have rubbed me wrong on a regular weekday were not even a worry on a Friday. For the next two days I wouldn't be forced to think about anything. Some of the excitement generated by that small fact also helped make Friday the easiest instalment in the workweek. Friday became like a little bonus part of the weekend as I was already gearing into a Saturday/Sunday state of mind.

      I rose from my bed like Christopher Lee from a coffin and headed to the bathroom to let go of what I had in me from the day before. The rest was robotic. Shower. Make coffee. Drink coffee. Choose an outfit. By Friday everything was automated. Even the countdown to Monday started in my head like clockwork. It affected the way I used my weekend. There was a strange pressure to get the most out of every day as the clock ticked away. That pressure was compounded with the pressure to do something creative or constructive with my spare time. My friends were making me feel guilty for what they thought was a waste of my talent, and accusing me of becoming consumed by the commercial world. Their voodoo must have worked because the night before that Friday morning I made a promise to myself to use the weekend to get something started. Which brings me to Syd Barrett.

      On top of the tank of my toilet was a stack of mixed magazines. Layered in amongst my partner's plethora of fashion rags was an old issue of a British music magazine that I had brought home from work. It had been thinned out by an account executive searching for breakthrough beer ads. It was much better without them. The theme of the magazine was psychedelic music soldiers who had lost their minds in the battle against barbiturates. There were articles on Brian Wilson, Peter Green, George Clinton, Lee Perry, and Syd Barrett. I thumbed through it looking at shoe ads and album art until I came across a photo of a crusty, shirtless Barrett standing behind a make-shift mixing board. He looked freaky and fried but at the same time he was working. So I started reading the article.

      Syd Barrett was the founding member of the seminal progressive rock outfit Pink Floyd. I was never a big fan of the Floyd but I understand Barrett and the boys kept London swinging in England's original all-night parties. The name Syd sounds mysteriously like the popular psychedelic substance of Barrett's day. Roger was Syd's real name and LSD, or cid, was the main source of Syd's musical inspiration, but not the source of his pseudonym. That aside, Syd became synonymous with acid. Barrett used it until he was in a perpetual psychedelic state. Acid didn't turn him into a junkie bent on oblivion. Syd simply surrendered to the other side and has yet to return.

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