Jesse Leach’s Check Your Head: Contemplation

Jesse Leach's Check Your Head

Killswitch Engage have been traveling the planet as of late, rocking audiences here, there, and seemingly everywhere. Despite how busy he is, Jesse Leach has checked in with some deep thoughts from the road. It’s another invigorating installment of Check Your Head, people.

RIP MCA

(As per usual, the video provided is meant as an inspiration to the writing and also a soundtrack, feel free to open the video up and play as you read)

Before you read this, I have to say this is a deep one and it is not for everyone. There is no instant gratification here, only words that may take a while to resonate or for some, it may just be nonsense.

Either way, to me this column has always been about saying what I feel and writing in hopes to have some sort of a positive impact on the reader. Regardless, here is my newest column about contemplation. Deal with it or stop reading…here we go.

I awoke today in a hotel room (nothing unusual there at all) and I could see through the slivers in the thick curtains a blue sky and sun. I knew I had little time to take advantage of breakfast as I usually miss out from sleeping late due to exhaustion or jet lag. I jump right up, got dressed and made it in time for a peaceful breakfast under the warm sun and deep blue skies.

After eating an array of salty and sweet foods polished off with some delicious green tea, I decided a swim in the roof top pool would be a perfect end to a peaceful morning. What a life I live (and at times, take for granted).
    
As I arrive on the rooftop, I see a young Sikh boy (I could tell he was Sikh by the head wrap and long strands of hair slipping out from the wrap; for more information about the fascinating Sikh religion, visit this site).

He was about 8- or 9-years-old, playing and splashing in the pool. The slightly grumpy side of me almost turns around and doesn’t want a splashing child to interrupt my peaceful morning. However, the young boy sees me approaching and stops splashing and stares at me for a moment (over the years, having a large beard, a mohawk or large mutton chop sideburns like I do now, I am rather used to people staring at me) and I can feel his demeanor change.

He continues playing with the water but is no longer splashing as much; I can only assume out of respect for me entering the pool area. I sit near the edge of the pool on a chair under the radiant sun and decide to wait until he grows tired of playing and perhaps, I can have the pool to myself. As I am lying there, with the sound of the water filtering through the pool and the boy’s playful movements, the sun’s warmth on my flesh…I slip into a meditative state.

I have been practicing meditation through out my life but as of late, with all of the flying and long lines, it has become a mind saver for me. This is the part of the article that will either draw you in or loose you as we go deeper.
     
A feeling of joy washes over me as I realize this child is enjoying his time in the water. In actuality, he may be enjoying much more than I may have.  

I don’t know where this boy comes from, what type of life he lives, what he has been through…all I know is at this moment, he is enjoying the water and enjoying life. He is not sitting in front of a television, smart phone or video game; he doesn’t even have another child to play with. It is just him and a pool of water, a simple and yet profound moment in front of me. In life, we have so many choices, so many opportunities to learn a lesson, to experience a small piece of the vast beauty of existence. In this moment, I chose to be open to allowing this experience to resound with in me. I contemplated on water.
    
Water. It is a “giver of life” and also, it can destroy and suffocate it. That same water the boy was playing in has flooded villages, cities…eroded canyons and worn down mountains. That same water quenches the thirst of people living in drought-filled third world countries, given crops the ability to grow and feed millions of people, fallen down through the skies in to rain forests, producing life-giving trees and in turn, the air we breathe.

That water can freeze and become so massive it connects continents over oceans! My mind was being blown. Here I am, modern man, with water within my reach, with the touch of my hand. I can pull on a lever and water is just there, at my leisure. I can drink it, bath in it, cook with it or like this child, I can play in it if I choose.

Who am I in this modern world, who can easily take for granted water?!? How have we arrived at this place in life where modern technology has made it easy for us to loose sight of how amazing and precious water is?!?
 
If you are still reading, you may be able to relate to these moments or perhaps you just want to know where I am going with this. Either way, fair enough…let me attempt to conclude this.
    
I slowly come out of my meditative state and almost immediately, the sarcastic side of me pops into my head and I think, “Ah, this kid is still here — ha ha.”

Hey — meditative, contemplative, spiritual or not, we all have our sarcastic side right?!?

I digress…I have the urge to write, so I slowly gather my shirt, towel, phone and key card. I realize I have been there for 40 minutes but it seems like a lot less. The boy is still joyfully moving around and pushing through the water, pretending to be a fish or dolphin. He sees me get up and again stares at me and slows his movements; I smile at him and make my way out.

The moment I hit the hallway I hear loud splashing and shrieks of delight…I peer around the corner and the boy is back to doing exactly what he was doing before I entered the pool area. I smile ear to ear and let out laughter to myself. 

Two things hit me as I walked out of the pool room:

1. I was cramping the boy’s style and interrupted his high volume playing.

2. The boy had respect for me and calmed himself enough for me to enjoy the pool area as well as he waited 40 minutes for me to have my time to reflect and relax. Now he has the pool to himself again and wasted no time getting back to what he wanted to be doing all along.

This speaks volumes for the boy’s understanding of sharing and respect while also showing his childlike, unrestrained impulse for having fun. Reflect if you will for a moment, what would you have done in this situation?

Don’t get me — wrong half the time, I would have turned around and avoided the situation as I am a pretty quiet recluse when I am alone and off the stage. However, honestly think about it. Here I am writing about a situation that is pretty much ordinary and everyday for most of us. We have a way of life, our routines, etc., but many people don’t like to be bothered within the first few moments or hours upon waking up.

The decisions we make and our perspective on any given situation can dictate the experiences we have in this fleeting life. How easy it is for us to take something as simple as a child at play in the water and think nothing of it, find no depth in it whatsoever and be on our way, or update or Twitter, Facebook and Instagram what have you.

We have lost our way for the most part in this modern world. Our connection to the depths of our communion with each other and the elements that surround us on a daily basis is lost in the rat race. Do yourself a huge favor and try to take time — even if it is just a moment each day — to give yourself a “reality check.” Have a positive moment; Lord knows we have enough negative reinforcement around us in our society. Something that seems simple and everyday on the surface can prove to be profound and enlightening if you only push past your comfort zone and find stillness and contemplation. 

I am happy I can still find peace after touring almost non-stop for a year, give or take. Life is fleeting and beautiful, take nothing for granted my friends.

After a two-month break coming up, I’ll see you on the road again! Thank you for reading and for caring about what I do, musically or otherwise. I am thankful to have you as an audience. One love.

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About Jesse Leach

Jesse Leach is the dynamic frontman for Killswitch Engage, Times of Grace and The Empire Shall Fall. He also spent time with Seemless. The Empire Shall Fall’s album Awaken is in stores now, as is Times of Grace’s Roadrunner debut, The Hymn Of A Broken Man. Of course, Killswitch Engage have a new album in stores called Disarm The Decent.

  • Johnny Digges

    Awesome post dude.

  • Kamal

    That’s really deep and inspiring.Amazing.

  • Juan Dias Mac Ortiz

    God bless you bro love your music and your inspirational words

  • Joe Orders

    I can relate, I had a similar experience while white water rafting on the chatooga river a few weeks back. The river is an incredible force and I truly felt small and insignificant by comparison. As we drifted in between the rapids I took the time to enjoy the peacefulness and serenity of the river and surrounding forest. The experience was truly profound and I can’t wait to take the opportunity to do it again.

  • Marco Trigueros

    Thanks Jesse, that was a great great piece, I live in costa rica, but i’m a city boy burried in tech toys and a boring 9 to 5 job ,sometimes this life style can get to me, but the moment i can, i take my car and drive to the Mountain or beach and just stay there contemplating nature and its great, i feel a connection with nature and i feel relaxed, it gets me through you know.

  • Gretchen G

    It truly is amazing how so many people have lost touch with what really is important in this very short life that we have on this planet. It is very refreshing to read your post when the genre of your art has been known to be very negative.

  • Dustin Brinnon

    I have moments like this, myself. Interestingly – a few years ago I had gotten my tax return and with it decided to get new tires for my truck. I went to a Discount Tire on Spokane’s North Side on a friend’s suggestion. We were just in my vehicle so we had to hang out while the job was being done. My friend got a phone call somewhere along the line and I was left to… do whatever. So, I walked to the edge of the parking lot which happened to be up on a hill overlooking the “Y” area – which also offered a good view beyond that of the present natural beauty among the urban developments. In that small moment I was hit with a reminder of just how amazing creation is. Trees, the sky, sunlight… it was profound; almost as though I had my eyes open for the first time. I attempted to invite my friend into my moment, but… he just wasn’t – er – connected… I suppose. In short, I feel you, man. I strongly encourage anyone to welcome a moment of reflection whenever they can get one. My vacation in Seattle sure is providing for several… God bless, brother.

  • William

    It’s cool to see that someone involved in such a whirlwind business
    as music must be can still find time to immerse themselves in the coexistent
    simplicity and complexity of things. I’m sure it must help with your
    ability to write relevant, and thought provoking lyrics. I have seen you
    in KSE twice now in Kansas City, MO, and Wichita, KS. I hope to be
    able to see you guys again when you come back to K.C. in November. I
    hope Justin is recovering well, and I look forward to reading some more
    of your thoughts on life in the future.

  • Brian Sachetta

    You are the man, Jesse. Still haven’t stopped listening to DTD. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Vikki Jones

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Jesse . I check my head regularly since I found your column. I enjoyed this story immensely, however, one thing was deeply bothering me from the beginning. What was a nine or ten-year-old boy doing swimming in a pool all alone?????

  • LOSKO916

    I have been reading your writing’s for sometime now there are amazing things you write about even if its the simple thing’s in life, we do take so much for granted everyday and i’m guilty of this just like so many people are but we have to think what is important in life and look at things in many different ways and sit back and analyze what we go though everyday and see how much beauty is in the world and how something so simple can bring you joy or even make you think how beautiful life is, thank you Jesse for your insight on the world and how you look at thing’s it has helped me get though so many problem’s in my life and you probably hear that all the time but you help many people Jesse with your music etc, you are blessed with something great and you use your words to get a message out and we are listening well some of us are :) thank you again Jesse for everything you do. One love and mad respect! KSE 4 EVER!

  • Roy

    I love the feeling of equanimity you just described, seeing things from the universal rather than the little “me” in the head that likes itself a little to much sometimes makes the world such a bigger, more beautiful place. Thanks for sharing that moment, it reminds me of so many of mine.

  • Jesus Lopez

    PLEASE COME SOON TO MEXICO CITY! WE LOVE KILLSWITCH ENGAGE HERE! We have many years waiting for this concert!!!

  • Nathan

    I’m moved by this article,God bless you Jesse.

  • Samantha S

    Thank you for sharing that. I needed something like this today. Many blessings, Jesse.

  • TrooperCant

    I have to say that I thouroughly enjoy these posts you make and that each one is extremely insightful. It is astounding the things we commonly take for granted and how the simplest things can be pure sources of joy to others. Oddly enough, for me, some of my more contemplatives moments simply spring upon me at seemingly random times or when I’m focusing on something else. But I also think that nature and the elements do bring us to appreciate and strive to understand the world around us.

  • Brian Hurst

    Jesse, you’re quickly becoming one of the most influential people I’ve ever heard of. (I wish I could say ” ever met” rather than heard of… perhaps one day our paths will cross.) Between your music and your writings that I have read, I am very inspired to better myself on a daily basis. You nail it right on the head each time with things like how simple it is for us to lose touch with the important things in this life and to take a few moments out of our busy schedules each day and just appreciate something beautiful — no matter how big or small.
    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the world wide web for people like myself to soak in some enlightenment. Do you have any good books you could recommend that might be found insightful?

  • Rhiannon Cooper

    I’ll take your advice as my nephew comes for his first sleep over tonight. He’s not yet 2. Maybe it will help ease my physical pain and other pain. Auto immune diseases are a bitch!