As imperfect, insecure, and fragile creatures, we all view and absorb the world through our own biased perceptions, and develop conclusions based on our own unique life backgrounds. But the foundations of these perceptions were often inherited from people and experiences of our past that we once trusted in a state of naïve attentiveness. We used their help when we had little of our own practice or knowledge, and when we carried an eagerness to be receptive creatures exploring the vastness of the world.
But as we grew older, life proved to be difficult, confusing, unfair, deceptive, absurd, inconsistent, and overwhelming, which weakened our grasp and understanding of it. For self-preservation, we often drew conclusions in haste and created excuses to make sense of anything absurd - an approach we still use to this day. These self-created personal shields may help us keep our composure, but primarily stem from the antiquated principles that were once imposed upon us in our early lives. Seemingly easing our burden, they filter out pieces of reality which are easier ignored than confronted, and may not correlate with the beliefs that have already subconsciously infiltrated our psyche through habitual use. Most of us forget that the shields are still present, narrowing our perception of reality.
Those with wise teachers may have received strong foundations, but isn't it our responsibility to, at some point, dismantle and reevaluate these teachings at the roots, to make sure that they are an accurate representation of who we now are as aware, evolving individuals? Or, are we content representing lingering products of our environment's principles, and perpetuating ideals that we may not even identify with? One way to investigate is to transform oneself into a blank slate, and confront the depths of our own perceptions.
Okapi, for us, represents our “tabula rasa” beginning, and a haven where our vulnerability becomes a potent and crucial point for catharsis. Having abandoned traditional musical paths which didn't speak to us any longer, we had to revert back to a state of truly knowing nothing, and struggle with our isolation and lack of confidence in a field that is (like many others) driven by a loyalty and numbers game. As individuals who found each other at an empty crossroads, all we could develop was our awareness of what did and did not intuitively resonate with us, then try to understand the reasons why through a new and expanding level of consciousness of ourselves, our environment, and their correlation. We view our art as an open, ongoing personal diary, where our honesty illustrates all the beauty, struggles, and absurdity in maintaining a level of consciousness as a sensitive individual in this world.
Although this exploration may span the entirety of our lives, those of us who are fortunate enough to feel empty and aimless at any point without being prompted, should take this self-imposed awareness as a blessing. Internally, we are not merely content with trying to fit a vastly complicated world into a frail box exposing several holes, but seek to refine our own identities through a personal and highly individualized interpretation. This path is one of bravery, because we are knowingly denying the comforts and securities of associating with (and therefore strengthening) a pre-existing group. Joining such a group may provide a sense of identity and assuredness, but we are all unique creatures that have something to offer as individuals, and not all principles and paths are necessarily universal. It is up to us to pave our own paths of righteousness, as long as we do not intrude upon or hurt others along the way.
We, Okapi, hope that our musical compositions, existential anecdotes, honesty, and doctrine encourage others to stand on their own and express their unique, individual voices, from a blank slate beginning through to the development of their own consciousness. We hope that they speak with an unfiltered honesty about their evolving perceptions, even if what's shared exposes imperfections, weaknesses, and insecurities. One must not fear facing isolation in these moments, for it seems to be inevitably correlated with conscious growth. Perhaps the greatest freedom one can experience is understanding themselves as a pure and aware individual, without the veils imposed upon them by the external.
We feel that this consistent conscious development can ultimately guide an individual toward their own healthy path of righteousness and happiness, but it must begin with positive intent and a willingness to confront oneself, as well as the world around them. This concept has to be desired and understood, so therefore, it can never be forced.
Of course, these are our own personal views at this specific point in Okapi's development, and it's all subject to change, because we ourselves are still naïve creatures just trying to grow in a healthy manner!
As Albert Camus states, “Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”