DS Exclusive: Miguel Chen on his new book, “The Death Of You: A Book For Anyone Who Might Not Live Forever”

DS Exclusive: Miguel Chen on his new book, "The Death Of You: A Book For Anyone Who Might Not Live Forever"

One among my favourite — and in addition I feel one of the essential — strains in Miguel Chen’s new guide, The Demise Of You: A Guide For Anyone Who May Not Reside Eternally, comes right inside the first small handful of pages. Chen, is clearly greatest recognized for his position as bass participant for long-running punk band Teenage Bottlerocket but can also be increasingly well-known for his yoga and meditation teachings and practices, and wrote a reasonably profitable ebook, I Wanna Be Properly: How A Punk Found Peace And You Can Too that got here out final yr. Anyway, early on in The Dying Of You, web page eight to be actual, Chen asks and answers the query that you simply could be asking out loud if you hear that the bass player of a hard-working punk rock band has written a guide on primarily methods to come to phrases with the concept of dying in a method that lets you lead a satisfying life. That question, as you’ve in all probability deciphered by now, is “why is Miguel Chen certified to write down this ebook?” Chen’s answer? “I’m not. Properly, a minimum of no more than anyone else.”

It’s that tone of self-deprecation, of not taking himself all that significantly, that weaves its approach by means of all of Chen’s written work – and all of Bottlerocket’s music for that matter – that makes it so compelling and relatable. Nevertheless, it’s additionally, frankly, not precisely true. Chen, you see, has skilled what some may consider is greater than his justifiable share of painful and premature deaths in his life. As you in all probability know, Chen lost his mother to cancer when he was sixteen years previous and lost his sister in a tragic automotive accident lower than a yr later. Then, as you undoubtedly know, he lost his greatest good friend and Teenage Bottlerocket brother-in-arms Brandon Carlisle four years ago. The bakers’ dozen years in between discovered checking a lot of the bins on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s levels of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, melancholy and, lastly, acceptance; sex, medicine, riot and rock and roll, followed by intense durations of yoga and meditation that have discovered him in a a lot, much totally different place by the time Carlisle’s dying came around than he was in as a teenage.

And now with The Dying Of You, Chen is making an attempt to impart some of his immense and profound wisdom on the rest of us. The guide finds Chen teaming up with the same writing associate (Rod Meade Sperry) and writer (Wisdom Publications) as the first go around, which resulted in a much faster turnaround this time than the few years that went in to I Wanna Be Properly, even when he had this concept kicking round far prematurely. “(Writing a e-book about demise) was truly behind my mind for years and years,” explains Chen. “Before I got here to these practices and this reference to myself, I really type of felt like a sufferer of demise, of these losses that I had faced. My mother died, my sister died, life was fucked, why was this occurring to me?” Ultimately, as chronicled in I Wanna Be Nicely and previously discussed in our final conversation here, Chen started working towards and finally instructing in both yoga and meditation, offering him a deeper perspective not solely on demise as a concept. “As I received to the other finish of it via these practices and saw how totally different my life was because of these events,  I had to be trustworthy with myself that it wasn’t all dangerous,” he says, including “I imply yeah, it was heart-breaking and tragic and I want I had these individuals again in my life, but due to what occurred and when it happened, I used to be capable of stay a extra free existence. It freed me as much as be like, “properly, this happened, and this is real, so what am I going to do with the time that I do have?” It really drove me to pursue the band and music, and to make a life for myself that I was proud of, you realize?“

Like with I Wanna Be Nicely before it, The Demise Of You accommodates a mix of first-person storytelling, schooling of the reader about certain concepts, and a handful of practices aimed toward getting you and I to study by doing. For it’s not simply the thought of demise that Chen needs us to be snug accepting; it’s the best way to cope with all sorts of deaths we is perhaps introduced with, as much as and together with our personal eventual shuffling from off this mortal coil. This includes a meditation follow toward the top of the guide that implores the reader to check just what’ll occur to them when their time is up. “The status quo is to only never take into consideration demise in any respect, and simply sort of move forward,” says Chen. “You counteract that with the acute on the other end, proper? So, we’re going to do the precise opposite. We’re going to fucking not only think about dying, we’re going to think about our dying and we’re going to think about it in specific element. And I feel by then having explored both ends of the acute, we come to seek out where our spot within the middle is.” It’s not for the faint of coronary heart, but it will probably prove a fruitful expertise nonetheless.

The Demise Of You has an official launch date of September 17th. You possibly can pre-order it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Indiebound, or for those who’re luck enough to reside in certainly one of these nice cities, you’ll be able to decide it up at the Teenage Bottlerocket’s merch table on the Fat Wreck tour that’s happening now. Head under to check out our full Q&A!

Dying Scene (Jay Stone): So congrats on the new e-book! Final time we talked, for the last ebook, one of the things we talked about is how lengthy a process it was, from whenever you began writing the guide to when it was completed to when it lastly got here out. Here we’re the following yr and ebook number two is upon us. How’d that occur so shortly?

Miguel Chen: Yeah, man! Perhaps this time around I knew the method a bit bit better. Since it was publishers I’d worked with earlier than, it all simply came together somewhat quicker. There’s that aspect, and there’s additionally that this e-book concept – the second ebook concept – was floating around in my head before the primary one even came out. So there were type of plenty of elements.

Where did the thought itself come from? I do know you stated the thought itself had been floating round for a while, but the place did the thought to place these things on paper come from?

You realize, my first guide was slightly more basic. Like, punks, we’re bummed out or we’re depressed and we’d like something totally different and, you already know, here’s things that’ve helped me in my life and such. The second ebook was slightly extra particular, you recognize? A whole lot of the melancholy in my own life and lots of the struggles that I’ve faced have been really death-related. And so I kinda needed to seize that one facet and focus there.

I was talking to a pal who has not learn the guide but, and she or he asked what it was like, and I mentioned that the the main target is a definitely narrower than the first guide, but the extra I give it some thought, the more I feel that opens it up to much more individuals who may relate to it more than the first one.  Not a lot of people grew up in or gravitated towards the punk rock scene, however we’ve all had individuals die, whether or not well timed or premature.

Completely! That was a dialogue I had with Knowledge for positive. The audience for this guide is definitely totally different. It’s not necessarily just a punk rock guide, however whether or not or not we need to cope with demise, all of us should sooner or later. The older you get, the extra individuals you understand or individuals in your life which have died. It’s a reality of life. Such as you stated, punk rock perhaps doesn’t apply to everybody, but dying definitely does.

One in every of my favourite strains towards the top of the ebook, and it’d truly be within the final chapter, is about how one can reside a joyful life because of dying. To me, that’s the thread that ties the whole ebook together. When did that kind of focus come about, as you have been writing, or is that the concept was in your head the entire time?

I feel, you understand, that was truly behind my thoughts for years and years. Even before I knew that writing books was one thing that I needed to do, sooner or later, as I acquired more critical about my meditation follow and the type of inward connection….let me phrase it this manner: earlier than I came to those practices and this reference to myself, I actually type of felt like a victim of dying, of those losses that I had confronted. My mother died, my sister died, life was fucked, why was this occurring to me? And as I received to the opposite end of it by way of these practices and noticed how totally different my life was due to these occasions, and I had to be trustworthy with myself that it wasn’t all dangerous – I mean yeah, it was heart-breaking and tragic and I wish I had these individuals again in my life, but because of what happened and when it happened, I used to be capable of reside a more free existence. It freed me up to be like, “nicely, this occurred, and this is real, so what am I going to do with the time that I do have?” It really drove me to pursue the band and music, and to make a life for myself that I was proud of, you already know?

I actually recognize the best way that you simply included not simply your personal experiences with loss and dying, but the other type of lenses that you simply tried to use to them, especially being a young person and experiencing those deaths, there’s a few of the Catholic imagery in there, you tried the aversion thing, you tried the revolt and the medicine, you tried the “why me” thing. I recognize that you simply included all of that stuff within the guide, because it offered a kind of human context to the ideas, and that there’s stuff that perhaps didn’t work before.

Absolutely! There’s undoubtedly loads of trial and error alone path, and I think that anyone grieving or going via a loss or even making an attempt to return to terms with their very own mortality, they’re going to face lots of trial and error on their own path. But perhaps my experiences or me kinda talking brazenly can save them from one or two trials that they don’t want to determine first hand, you understand? Or even if they do undergo it first-hand, it’s just a little familiar they usually’re conscious that perhaps they’re not the only one that’s tried to take a look at it this manner before?

If you speak about dying in a “actual” means, and in a method that I feel is pretty well-adjusted, do you get folks that take a look at you or speak to you a bit bit unusual? Like you’re chilly or dismissive or desensitized to the whole dying thing?

(*laughs*) I’m laughing as a result of I feel instantly of a pair examples. Many years in the past, I had a good friend and her mother was additionally lifeless, and we might simply kinda make fucked up jokes with one another, like “hey, what’s your mom up to?” “Oh, just laying round.” (*each snigger*) Actually fucking dark, right? I had one other good friend whose dad died across the time my mother died, and he would all the time name me around Mom’s Day and go “Completely happy Mother’s Day! Oh wait, sorry.” And then I might return the favor on Father’s Day. To an outsider, that’s fucked up. That’s so dark. But we have been adjusted sufficient, or perhaps this was even our method of adjusting, to seek out some type of humor in it. Like I stated, there’s undoubtedly individuals who don’t perceive it. Or they don’t understand it YET. I feel after a sure degree of therapeutic and dealing with your self, it becomes, in a wierd approach, okay to snort a bit if that’s what helps you heal.

One of many things that you simply speak about, and that I feel is necessary, is that you simply nonetheless get unhappy. You could be unhappy about the fact that your mom passed or that your sister handed or that Brandon passed, however that unhappiness doesn’t manifest itself the best way that it used to. Or it doesn’t linger.

Completely! It’s slightly bit this shift of mentality. You’re taking it from “why did this happen to me?” and this victimhood to “okay, these are the details, and that is actuality, and what do I do with that.” Whenever you strategy it with this shifted mindset, you possibly can empower your self and take back management over your life and determine that, yeah, all these fucked up, terrible things occurred, however that doesn’t mean I can’t reside a life that’s value dwelling. I don’t should be unhappy all the time. On the similar time, it’s completely okay to get actually fucking unhappy. That’s a part of it. It’s simply extra of a taking in and letting go; when it’s time to be unhappy, be sad, after which let it go. You don’t should be caught there.

What stage of your personal religious journey, for lack of a greater phrase, and your personal practices have been you in when Brandon passed away, and did you cope with that dying in a different way than you probably did together with your mom or your sister?

Most undoubtedly. When Brandon passed away, I was truly within the course of of shopping for my first yoga studio. I’d been educating for some time, and I’d been sort of heavily immersed in these practices for a long time at that time. It was a very totally different course of. To some extent, I was just a little alarmed at how calm I was. I didn’t need it to be mis-perceived as coldness or not caring, as a result of absolutely I cared a lot. This man was like my family, you already know? I beloved him so deeply. However there was a wierd potential to carry myself, and from that perspective I might kinda see other individuals near me who hadn’t gone by way of these processes or had the experiences that I’ve had, and the way much they have been struggling. It kinda knocked me into a unique position. It was like “I’ve been right here, and although I’m dropping someone I really love, for me to have the ability to have the ability to help other individuals, that is my healing process.” For me to be able to be right here for different individuals, when it’s the primary time this could be occurring for them…I can attempt to hold area, and simply the act of holding area could be actually useful for other individuals and can even assist me with my very own course of with a big quantity much less wrestle than earlier brushes with demise.

I used to be simply going to ask you, in the event you have been at this extra superior a part of your journey at that point, did individuals come to you as…perhaps calling you a information shouldn’t be the write phrase to use, however did individuals come to you for help and for comfort while that was happening? So that regardless that you misplaced anyone that was principally a member of the family, you have been also still in that caretaker position.

Absolutely. I noticed actually shortly that Brandon actually meant so much to so many individuals, and folks that perhaps I might say weren’t as close to him as we have been within the band, or as Ray was being his twin brother…I didn’t have this “oh, you barely knew him” thing, I just realized shortly that Brandon actually touched you, and also you need someone, and I’m here. I felt responsible, and virtually humbled to be able to serve that position for somebody. It’s strange. It’s undoubtedly a factor everyone goes by way of in their own means, and I don’t assume there’s a right or incorrect means, however there were undoubtedly some people who just let it all out on me, you recognize? Then there have been different people who needed to grieve in a different way or let it out in several methods, and that was fantastic too. My position for whoever I was with to only be what they needed me to be at that time.

Did you are worried about your self in a state of affairs like that, though? Obviously you could be that individual for numerous different individuals, however did you have got individual for you, or was it that you simply had your practices you can fall again on so that you perhaps had a more strong basis?

I wasn’t apprehensive about myself, and that’s not that I assumed that I was like this invincible, selfless being, but because of my previous experiences, I knew I had not only my practices however I had individuals and that as troublesome as this was, we’d get via it collectively. I had folks that if I needed a shoulder to cry on, me and Ray and Kody have been there for one another, and we still are there for one another. I wasn’t nervous about myself. I had this deep feeling that it was incredibly awful, and in a single sense I’m never going to be okay; I’m never going to get over this loss, and at the similar time, I’m okay. This concept that these contradictions can exist, and it’s one thing that I’ve discovered over years of follow, however things that logically can’t exist on the similar time do. Like, “complete not okayness” and “complete okayness” can coexist in a single individual.

It’s funny you point out that. One of the elements that I read of the guide and then learn it once more and skim it again are the couple of chapters in the center, eleven and twelve, on Nothingness and then Common Oneness, and those ideas that ought to be polar reverse and but for me and my own private belief, I really feel like they both exist concurrently. A part of me looks like once we’re executed, we’re achieved. That’s it. Nothing else happens. There’s not an afterlife necessarily, besides that we’re all also part of this singular power that is the universe. Our body and our spirit or whatever don’t move on, we’re carried out, however we get returned to the primordial soup. It looks like those concepts must be polar opposites, but I feel like they’re both what I consider in. 

Completely. I can totally see that. I feel the common oneness concept is so huge and so big that it might also most definitely encapsulate nothingness. They logically are actual opposites, but there’s a part of us that can maintain area for contradictions, and I undoubtedly assume that those are two suitable concepts if we clear this egoic a part of us that doesn’t need to accept that opposites can exist in the same realm.

What stored coming back to me was The Who lyric “nothing is the whole lot, the whole lot is nothing.” 

Completely! That’s Buddhist as fuck!

Precisely! I don’t keep in mind if Pete Townshend was a training Buddhist at that time, but you’re proper; that’s Buddhist as fuck!

Yeah, I’m positive he in all probability wasn’t, however the purpose it’s true is that it’s just true. Everybody who digs in, no matter what path you’re going via, you’ll come to the reality. It’s simply fucking true, no matter what religion or what philosophy you select. Dig in and discover out for your self. 

One of the other elements of the guide that I needed to talk about was the practices. In the first guide, I was a fan of how after each story there was a meditation or a yogic apply to do, and I’m glad that you simply put those in periodically on this ebook too virtually as breaks, as a result of the idea of the ebook gets a bit of heavy at occasions, so the practices serve as just a little break. But I have to say, that dying meditation…I actually like that one, and I had never seen it anyplace else earlier than. I actually dug into that apply of type of picturing what occurs if you die; of being snug with the fact that you’re going to run out, that your time shall be up, and then seeing yourself kinda dissipating and falling away after which there’s nothing, and being okay with that. I dug into that over the course of the last couple of weeks, and I’m glad that medicine was in there. What sort of went in to what practices you set into the ebook and where?

I take into consideration a couple issues. One, I take into consideration making an attempt to present what I hope the reader is prepared or capable of dip their toes into at the time. You possibly can’t just take someone from zero to 100 immediately. They’ll be like “what the fuck is that this?” and bail. So that demise meditation notably, if I have been to start out the guide and that’s the place we start out, lots of people can be like “I’m not doing that!” and then shut the guide and bail, right? But, I feel as you go through the journey and also you get slightly extra open, you’re prepared to test the waters somewhat bit extra, and you’re open to newer experiences. That’s why that specific one is in the direction of the top. The opposite factor I considered quite a bit was, okay, so the status quo is to only by no means take into consideration demise in any respect, and just type of transfer ahead. You counteract that with the acute on the other end, proper? So, we’re going to do the precise opposite. We’re going to fucking not solely take into consideration dying, we’re going to consider our demise and we’re going to consider it in specific detail. And I feel by then having explored each ends of the acute, we come to seek out where our spot within the center is.

That’s type of where I landed after making an attempt it. I’ve never been one who’s been good with taking a specific set of contemplations and shifting via them, like the first a part of that medicine. My brain doesn’t appear to work that means and I overlook or get lost or whatever. But the final a part of that step, I was capable of work by means of the imagery of principally the lifeless corpse as it decomposes, for lack of a greater word, and I felt really calm afterwards. I don’t know that that’s a thing that you simply’d anticipate after envisioning what occurs to your physique if you die. 

That’s awesome! I’ve had lots of deeply calming experiences with demise practices like this myself. It’s type of counterintuitive; you mention it to somebody that at this time they’re going to imagine their body rotting away. On paper, that looks like a deeply unsettling factor, however in actuality, in case you undergo it a number of occasions, it may be profoundly peaceable. Once more it’s enjoying with contradictions and the area in between, proper?

I feel it’s an necessary idea that often gets missed. It’s one factor that we’re speaking about psychological health and points like that increasingly in the public consciousness now, but we still don’t really speak about demise, except for that we’re scared as fuck of it more often than not. 

Totally! That is another degree deeper, right?

Yeah, it’s a superb factor that we’re speaking about psychological well being, but I feel lots of people’s struggles with self-medication and self-harm and damaging conduct comes from not dealing with stuff like this. From not being snug talking about or understanding dying, they usually find yourself both operating from it or operating in the direction of it.

Most definitely. I used to be talking concerning the guide and the practices, and hopefully by this level, the reader is ready to enter a barely deeper follow, however it doesn’t just exist on particular person levels. As an entire society or as an entire world, years again, we weren’t capable of speak about mental well being and melancholy and stuff like that. Now, usually, it’s more okay to talk about and to research these issues, so let’s go even deeper. Sooner or later, demise is what we’re all fucking afraid of to a point, so let’s investigate that.

I feel it’s kind of poignant that just this week within the sports world, and in the historically macho soccer world, you had two guys very publicly walk away from lucrative careers because they have been dealing with not simply bodily however mental health points, and the truth that they have been even capable of speak about that “this recreation fucked me up and I have to not play it anymore…”

We’ve advanced!

Yeah, it’s exceptional! 

Collectively we’re evolving, and I do know the information makes it look like we’re regressing and that things are fucking terrible, however I actually, in my heart, consider that the rationale that the dangerous shit is being so noisy proper now’s that all the good shit is making real progress. 

That’s an fascinating means to take a look at it. I hope you’re proper!

I hope I’m proper too! (*both snort*) Just the truth that some football gamers can speak about that and retire and stroll away…there’s been an evolution. Just the fact that…how do I do that with out being super fucking political… the fact that climate change deniers are preventing a lot and there’s so many people so fucking pissed off exhibits that the reality is there, and that extra individuals are turning into aware of it. That’s why little canine bark so fucking loud, because the reality is breaking by means of, and as a species we’re fucking evolving.

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