On tour again with the APO as I write this. It’s a pretty short tour actually, just 5 shows all in a month. We have done Toronto, and this weekend it will be in Houston and Dallas. Next week, we finish everything with shows in Hayward near San Francisco, and Moronggo near LA. All shows happen on weekends for economic reasons. People are free and therefore can attend shows if they like the performers. I can’t recall how many times APO has gone on tour in our 40 years of performing. Our first tour ever was in 1974. And we are still doing it.
Our audiences everywhere are always fun. Maybe we do attract a fun crowd because of our music and our act. That’s why shows abroad (or anywhere for that matter) are a lot of fun to do. No wonder we’re still doing it on our 40th year.
Things can get pretty weird in between shows though. In a month, ‘home’ is at least 5 different hotel rooms. Plane rides, long ones, are common. There is so much time waiting at airports, sitting on flights, going through long drives, or even just hanging around the hotel room. As much as I get really tired traveling, the upside is I have a lot of time to be alone and think. What enters my mind constantly is impermanence– how everything seems to be in flux. Every performance is in a new venue. One day you’re in one city with a set of producers taking care of you, the next day you are moving again to a different locale. The change of time zone highlight that things are really transient everywhere and every minute. There is something so zen about it.
Then there is the lure of shopping. I often indulge myself in electronics shops and buy a few gadgets. The thrill of the purchase, the discovery of the wonders of modernity, the promise of happiness however fleeting it is always beckons. And through the years, I have learned to handle myself better about living with and being content with the purchases I have made even if in a few weeks, the newer gadgets that come out make the one I just salivated over and bought suddenly old or obsolete. Years ago, I used to feel a great sense of loss when those things happened. But age has a way of smoothing the rough edges of expectations and unmet gratifications. Now I KNOW it will happen and I am cool with it.
I have learned pretty much how to flow. What happens is what happens. Things are what they are. To resist or to expect something more than what is there always leads to disappointment. Because of this mindset, a lot of experiences take on a spiritual dimension.
In every tour, we must meet close to a thousand people who at the very least will shake our hands, ask for autographs and have pictures with us, or engage us in some sort of chit chat. I generally enjoy these things although sometimes, they are pretty hard to do when I am tired. But I always gamely do these things and with much enthusiasm.
Such moments are literally noisy ones with people jostling for a position for pictures, or wanting to just be with us to engage in conversation, etc.. But because of years of doing this, the pleasure I find in all this is qualitatively different now as I have aged. Years ago, the whole scene was primarily something that did wonders for my ego gratification. These last few years however, I have noticed that in the midst of all the noise and excitement of it all, I can be detached without losing engagement. These things are happening and I am present to them and I have no other agenda except to be with people and be present. I do not feel pumped up and important because people want to meet me or watch me perform, etc.. I know this may seem hard to believe but I feel no need to be more famous than I already am (which is a modest fame at best).. What I feel is the pleasure of what 40 years of APO music has done to the three of us and those who had followed us through the years.
It is gratitude plain and simple. And this gratitude extends to my two friends Danny and Boboy, our management, our band, our audience and the years and effort we have put into doing what we do. Life is good. We have done good and I wouldn’t change places with anyone who seems more successful.
I know that every tour ends, and even APO will eventually do so as well. But that is for another time and place to write about. Right now, I am enjoying the ride in all possible ways.