It was the (very) early 90's, and alongside my good friend Dave Dyment and our mutual friend Cheryl, I embarked on a journey away from my little suburban enclave to go downtown and see an exhibit of some of John Lennon's sketches in a small Toronto gallery. Dave was a walking Beatles trivia machine and his enthusiasm for all things Lennon & Ono was infectious, so away we went.
Our entire journey was enhanced by a Pixies tape that was perpetually jammed in Dave's car tape deck. It risked being destroyed if yanked out so we resigned ourselves to having one musical selection that day. The raucous and vibrant sounds of Black Francis screaming into the abyss was the perfect soundtrack for our little adventure.
It played constantly whenever we were in the car, like some eternal tape loop that was destined to be our perpetual soundtrack. I am sure that it even ceased to register in our consciousness after a while, sort of like a persistent wind pattern that follows you around all day.
As our familiar and orderly suburban neighourhood faded away we relished in the freedom of driving into the more organic and less orderly downtown core, laden with the possibility of something magical awaiting us that day. In our minds the drawings of a man who once dared us to "imagine" a different kind of world were going to be within plain sight. It was a chance to feel a connection to something sacred, though we wouldn't have described it as such at the time.
When we were at the gallery I don't particularly recall being blown away by the Lennon prints, though the experience itself was enhanced by Dave's encyclopedic knowledge of all things Lennon, and the story or two that accompanied each piece. Looking back, I think it was more the idea of the Lennon prints that inspired me. Perhaps there was a faint hope that being in close proximity to his drawings would cause a minuscule portion of his essence to rub off on us. This in and of itself was inspiring enough
Afterwards, as if possessed by the need to create some of our own magic, we stopped by the lake shore (Lake Ontario) and released a message in a bottle into the vast expanse of the water. I don't recall exactly what we wrote in the message, though I am sure it was something vaguely cryptic and poetic according to our sensibilities at the time. It was a fitting end to our journey and a logical extension of our desire to be part of something out of the ordinary.
Later on (and perhaps still) there were ongoing fantasies in my mind that our little bottled message would arrive across the water in Buffalo, New York or somewhere else and another person would find it on the shore and also feel that connection to something sacred, momentarily taking them outside of themselves and into a realm of new possibilities.
There have been persistent echoes of that day for me ever since. I am forever bound to the themes that shaped that particular experience. I still am always longing for contact with something that represents a bold vision, something that is noble and much bigger than who I am. I still hurl messages into the unknown in the hope that they will one day get picked up by a kindred spirit and against unfathomable odds I will make a connection.
It all plays out like a continual tape loop in my mind, driving me towards distant places in the midst of each ordinary day, always searching ....