An' it Builds

by Sheila Nicholls

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………And Its been building for a long, long, time. This shape of ours, the collective human shape. Our collective beliefs, how we think, how we see ourselves, behaviors in all their similarities and diversities. But what have we built with our dominant cultures, hierarchies and trickle down theories? Did we miss the point somewhere along the way?
We don’t seem to be able to learn from our past or honor the journeys of our ancestors as we have ignored, denied and marginalized truths, especially if they don’t help make a profit, now. So we sit dangerously teetering in an unsustainable hyper capitalism that justifies the rape of the planet and its creatures in a pyramid so tall it is inevitably going to topple. Have we isolated ourselves, from the potential of our true nature?

But we seem to keep building with euphemisms and silly squabbling, like we don’t want to survive. For years I have taken this very personally. Loathing the posturing and positioning of everyday life, naming it the farce that it is, that veils us from the availability of the unconditional love that my heart and possibly yours deeply yearns for. It is clear to me now that since there are billions of galaxies with billions of stars in each, the probability of life throughout the universe is quite high. Of course this is all personally speculative, but maybe, just maybe, Life goes through a rite of passage. The evolution of the primal, toward a deeper understanding of identity and purpose, the transcendence of fear. The Fear that is still rewarded, encouraged and continues to drive our competitive and individualistic societies today.

Often fear is fobbed off as an unavoidable and inevitable part of human nature, but I think human nature is malleable and changes very slowly over time. It is not a static excuse to justify the horrific things we do to one another, and other creatures. Because we can objectify our thoughts and pathways in our mind, we have the power to evolve ourselves whether we like it or not. Clinging to silly ideas like original sin or a Messiah coming to miraculously save us is just sad. We are our own saviors, individually and collectively.

Truthfully, any depression I’ve had in my life I now see is based in this unending desire in me for all of us to be in our full potential and for all beings to live in harmony and peace, joy and love. because i know that part of myself is real. it is the most enjoyable part of being human.surely we could live in a culture that cultivates these aspects? Real unending Joy that has nothing to do with the consumption of varying bits of labeled plastic and metal.

This would be interpreted as unrealistic, idealistic, even dangerous by my parents, and I’ve tried to live in that reality, believe me. But I think it is vital and important to vision into what could be. Even if we have already passed critical mass and it looks futile. Somewhere in the infinite possibilities there is a human future where we got it, and adjusted our individual and therefore collective behavior to a new level of homo sapien that would make us look like neaderthals look to us today.

The Occupy movement (I lived at Occupy LA for two months) took on the internalized normative experience of hierarchy. With a common understanding and experience, that representative democracy has failed the common people, rewarding the very wealthy who hoard resources while the world’s poor fight their wars and slave away, literally. We endeavored to try something different. Horizontalism (from the Spanish Horizontalidad ) was a way for us to listen and connect with one another. With an understanding that our psychology is saturated with experience of normative hierarchical structures. In our institutions, schools, our workplace our families and ourselves. In these hierarchies in which micro aggresions continue to play out. We wanted to created something wholly different. At Occupy it was called out and named for what it was; an internalized behavior of low intensity warfare, not stemming from empathy or compassion but selfishness and greed that keeps us divided and conquered. We tried to learn from previous social movements that have often imploded due to schisms and clicks. It was understood that Ego itself needed to be retrained. Through consensus, white privilege, male privilege, first world privilege were all recognized. People were sincerely asked to check themselves, which they did, and for a fleeting moment there, society changed. It felt tangible as we held a safe space for personal discovery which then itself became all of our discovery, I would even name it the potential of human evolution, maybe evolution itself, as we propelled our movement into new territory. Many will say it failed, but it was an early attempt at something that will potentially save this species. It allowed us to witness each other and communicate across our diversity to form common bonds and cohesive plans, expanding our personal freedoms as one person's vulnerability and realization became all of ours.

The line 'so I can trust you' is asking, what it would feel like if we could intertwine on a more intimate level? What would it feel like to collectively drop the manufactured idols and statues, Kardashians,Trump, sensationalistic news media? The waking up of us all from the stagnancy of selves shaped by the incessant culture of materialism, celebrity and distraction. It is a call to end the slavery of the mind, to forge equinimity, egalitarianism, compassion, cultural intimacy. For us to focus on the good parts of our combined and common humanity. So we might eventually extend them to all living beings. What would that kind of synergy feel like, we must first perceive into it to make it real. Every palpable thing was an idea first.

This song is most definitely in the category I am calling a Social Commentary to Music. The lyric came first with this one, and I have chosen to build the music around it. I see it more of a sung spoken word piece.


An' it builds

An' it builds
it builds on top of what was always there
layer upon layer upon layer
and no one seems to know or remember

And it builds
every creatures past has been distilled
to make this moment now in which we stand
but the pyramid is too high for the land
well it's got me thinking

is there, is there
another shape that we could make? x2
Shape us again, we're dropping all those statues
shape us again, well this time horizontal
shape us again, well this time more affection
shape us again, so that I can trust you

And it builds
the orchards of our minds been left untilled
the purpose of the species unfulfilled

still Plato sits in cave where shadow puppetry enslaves
stick to entrenched believes rob the future pay the Chiefs
we are sent to duplicate when we conjoin the church and state
and all that sits behind the dam turns on itself inside the woman

And it builds
when wealthy men send poor kids off to war
dwindling resources is what that's for
and that is gaudy silence from the shores
of Easter Island

Is there, is there
another shape that we could make?
shape us again, this time horizontal
shape us again we're dropping all those statues
shape us again, well this time more affection
shape us again
so that I can trust you,
so that I can trust you, all of you


released August 8, 2016
All of Nature
A collection of social commentary to music

By Sheila Nicholls

All Of Nature, Infinite Mind, God, Beyond The Wrath, An' It Builds, Edge of You, Caution To The Wind, Post-Revolutionary Victory Song, Joy In Store: Music and Lyrics by Sheila Nicholls

Back Into The Sky: Music by Sheila Nicholls, Lyrics by Sheila Nicholls and Reirani Taurima

Come To The Garden and Music Of The Spheres:
Music by Sheila Nicholls, Lyrics by Sheila Nicholls and Michael Bernard Beckwith

Reveal: Music by Sheila Nicholls and Dave Stringer, Lyrics by Lorin Roche from his translation of The Radiance Sutras

Executive producer - Curt Campbell
Produced by Sheila Nicholls, Mitchel Forman and Dave Stringer
Edited and Mixed by - Krishan Khalsa
Recorded By Pete Min and Krishan Khalsa
Recorded at Pete Min’s Studio, Lazy Bagel Studio and Feijoa Studio in Los Angeles, CA
Jacket Design: Dave Stringer & Sheila Nicholls

Andrew Synowiec: dobro, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, acoustic guitar
Chris Bruce: electric guitar
Danny Frankel: drums and percussion
Dave Stringer: featured vocalist on ‘Reveal’ and harmony vocals on ‘Infinite Mind’
Doug Webb: alto, tenor, baritone sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet
Gary Novak: drums
Jebin Bruni: keyboards and synthesizers
Kaveh Rastegar: stand up and electric bass
Mitchel Forman: piano
Nailah Porter: harmony vocals on ‘All of Nature’
Patrick Richey: tabla, cajon
Reirani Taurima: harmony vocals on ‘Back Into The Sky’ and ‘All Of Nature’
Shara Prophet: harmony vocals on ‘All of Nature’
Sheila Nicholls: vocals, piano
Tiwanna Floyd: harmony vocals on ‘All Of Nature’
Walt Fowler: trumpet, flugelhorn



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Sheila Nicholls Los Angeles, California

Sheila has released 3 albums: Brief Strop, Wake, and Songs From the Bardo. Smattered between songs of desire are rousing feminist fantasies and commentaries on the ridiculousness of worldwide chest-beating
her new project “All of Nature"
includes co-writes with Michael Beckwith, she petitions us to solve the world's problems. Because if we all committed, it would be quite simple to do so.
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