I lost it on New Year’s Eve this year.
Had an OBE.
Saw myself from above, on an astral plane, dancing with wild abandon with Linda, to the rock n’ roll sounds of The Gass Company at the old Roadhouse out on Country Club Road.
We were back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time of social and Cultural Revolution, when the emergence and acceptance of rock-and-roll music (rock bands debuted on the Ed Sullivan show!) is looked back on as culturally important and a time of positive change and good times.
If you happened to be at the White Grill -1106 New Years Eve Gala at Mirza Shrine Center you might have witnessed it. Might have wondered aloud as you watched us twirling: “What’s happening?”
OBE, which is an abbreviation for out-of-body-experience, typically involves a feeling of floating outside one's body and, in some cases, perceiving oneself as if from a place outside one's body.
Other terms for the experience are "soul travel" and "spirit walking". Some ways OBEs can be induced are brain trauma, sensory depravation, near-death experiences, and psychedelic drugs.
Before I go any further, let me assert that I did not take any psychedelic drugs. I did eat an 1106 cheeseburger (with grilled onions) and Suzy-Qs and wash it down with a glass of white wine.
But I was most certainly high. High on rock-n’-roll.
It’s happened before. The best description of the experience I’ve ever been able to come up with is that it’s a higher form prayer, as in, “God respects me when I pray but he loves me when I dance.”
More specifically, when dancing with Linda to The Gass Company as we’ve been doing for nearly fifty years.
There is an Islamic transcendent sect, the Sufi, known for the practice of a prayer dance to music, which involves whirling meditation; focusing on God and spinning in repetitive circles in a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.
Interesting. At times New Year’s Eve Linda and I whirled together so fast it was otherworldly. Especially when I looked over at her to see her eyes were completely closed, her lips in a half smile.
Of course it could be that it wasn’t an OBE, just a matter of biology; what happens to any of us when we dance — our cardiovascular system kicks in and we get more flexibile and balanced.
Research shows that just listening to music releases the “feel-good” neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes emotions like happiness, excitement, and joy.
Joy, now that’s a word that says what I felt the other night as a well as any. Ecstasy would be a good one too.
Also something a akin to healing as in this quote by reggae icon, Bob Marley. “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” I was definitely feeling no pain New Year’s Eve.
And I certainly did some “soul travel” while dancing to Wilson Pickett’s “Midnight Hour” and “spirit walking” grooving to Marc Marcano’s solo on “Mohair Sam.”
Fellow poet Adam Jameson saw it. He came wide-eyed to our table on the next band break to touch us — as if to see if we were real. Also Steve Herman, who, at one point, fanned us with his jacket while we were dancing and leaned in to ask, “How old are you?”
My answer at that point was 18, but, in fact, I’m 66. Most all the other attendees ran in age from their late 50s to 70s. We’re all now facing the debilitative ravages of aging.
So it goes without saying that I plan to keep music in my life as it’s been shown improve memory in Alzheimer patients and speed recovery in those who’ve had strokes.
And dance, of course. I just have to figure out a way to keep The Gass Company together for another 20 years or so and get them to save the last dance for me.
— J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and prevention and wellness coordinator at Pittsburg State University. He also operates Knoll Training, Consulting & Counseling Services in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-1852 or firstname.lastname@example.org.