"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Sitting in class that first day, we practiced alternating hands to produce a good bass sound. Simple movements, a basic beat produced by a dozen hands in near-perfect unison. I felt a stirring that took me by surprise. A smile took over my face of its own accord. My breathing  became a part of the song.

I wasn't supposed to be sitting in that folding chair with a djembe drum between my knees, my husband next to me. The original plan was for me to drop Walt off for this class that was his birthday gift, spend the hour at Tao of Tea, then continue our day of celebration together after the class was done. When we walked into the studio before the class, the instructor suggested I stay. "There's room and an extra drum."

And so I said yes. Not sure why, but it's the best yes I've stepped into in months.

In his introduction, Clifford, our teacher, said the djembe drum is supposed to make you happy. That drumming is meant to be fun and light and full of joy. And it has been that every minute of every class. It's not only the pulsing of the drum beat itself, but it's also the circle of disparate characters all joined in a common endeavor. For those minutes of unified symphony, there is no room for anything but full presence.

I'm aware that for one of the first times in my life, I don't care how good I am at this new thing. I'm not trying to please the teacher or impress (be better than) my fellow drummers. I'm good enough to acquire all the feeling coursing through my being. I'm good enough to be included in this circle. I'm good enough that Walt is happy to have me by his side. I'm. Good. Enough.

Although my hands produce the sound as they hit the taut goat hide, I feel the vibrations in my chest. Those radiate to the rest of my being so that a few beats into our simple rhythms I find myself connected to a song that feels ancient, primal and essential. I want to get up and dance. My body moves in the chair, as much as the goblet-shaped drum hugged by my knees and encircled by my bare feet allows.

That timeless vibration has opened a new channel through the middle of me. One that's pushed me through the dam of darkness built up over the long winter of the last year and a half. I hear the pulse of light in the wild riot of robin song that starts the day. I see the pulse of life as the rain-swollen Lewis River rushes pell mell toward the Pacific. I feel the pulse of love in Walt's eyes. All present before drumming, but none experienced in my blood as it is now.


Linda Hoye said...

Fascinating post, Deb. I've been hearing about drumming and wondering what it was all about. This post is beautiful on so many levels: the beautiful descriptions that take me right there with you, your sense of being good enough, and your awareness of experiencing things in a new way. Awesome.

patricia said...

Glad you stayed! I am so happy that you are finding a source of light in the dreariness. Love you.

Donna said...

I think music or drums in any form help us on so many levels when down or sick or even to express joy. This was a wonderful post that hit home in my love of this same form of rhythm. Beautiful!

Linda Myers said...

I've tried it, years ago. I want to try it again. What a fine, evocative writer you are!

Sandi said...

I found myself smiling big as I read these words, Deb. I can just picture you and your happiness at the unexpected thrill this class brought you! What a lovely description of the lifting of dispair, "That timeless vibration has opened a new channel through the middle of me. One that's pushed me through the dam of darkness built up over the long winter of the last year and a half."

Beautifully written, makes me want to do something . . . get up and dance, sing, rejoice.

Love hearing from you! The robins are here, it's spring! Hurrah!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow, I was interested from the beginning, and as I read I just felt the joy rising up from my toes to the top of my head. And that's from reading your post. I'm really glad that you took a chance and sat in on the class. Yes!

kario said...

I love it! Whatever gave you the idea to give Walt a great gift like that? I hope he is benefitting in the same way and I hope you guys beat drums together for many years to come.

Wanda..... said...

I leave from here thinking... that I just may need to get a drum, Deb!

Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful.

Stacy Crawford said...

That sounds amazing. What a neat experience. I'm glad it touched your soul! You deserve it!

yaya said...

I've learned many fun and fascinating things blogging and here's a new one for me. I hadn't heard of "drumming" and how fun to take the lesson with your hubby. Drums are prevalent in many cultures and I can understand why after reading your post. It sounds like something that would be fun to try. Thanks for describing it so beautifully, and also how it's touched your soul today!

Barb said...

One of my earliest memories from when I was small is of my father holding me on his shoulders as the bass drums marched by in a parade. I felt the beat pulsing deep in the bones of my chest making their way into the cave of my heart. Your writing makes me feel that again, so I thank you, Deb. Rivers of emotion await their awakening in us.

BECKY said...

How wonderful, Deb! Sometimes it's those spur of the moment decisions that are the best, and create such happiness! I'm happy for YOU!

DJan said...

It sounds very powerful, yet very natural. Your description of the experience was tantalizing. I do hope you continue, and to step into something like this without knowing you would, it makes it even better. :-)

Jessica Nelson said...

VERY cool experience!!

Journaling Woman said...

I am totally jealous. I would love to learn the drums. So much of our spirit comes through when we use musical instruments.


Dee said...

Dear Deb, . . . as "Linda Myers" says, you are a "fine evocative writer." And throughout the past months of the school year, you have shared with us your journey that has been filled with both sorrow and joy. Grieving I think for a dream that didn't happen at the time you wanted it to.

And now the drum is pulsing new life within. I'm so glad to learn that this is happening for you. Serendipity.


Richard said...

Beautiful. I want to try drumming.

Terri Tiffany said...

Wow:) I think your experience sounds awesome! I would have been uncomfortable at first but I love love the drums.
I've missed your posts and was worried that something was wrong--glad it wasn't so!

Mark Lyons said...

I loved this!! I could picture you there...in the studio with the drum perched between your legs, with the look of peace in your face. Your description helps me to better understand the satisfaction our little brother has when he is on the platform surrounded by his drums.

I love you

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb, What a wonderful feeling that must have been: "I'm aware that for one of the first times in my life, I don't care how good I am at this new thing." Sounds as though you reached contentment there. Sometimes saying, "yes" can open new doors as you have proven. ;-)

Gammary said...

I read this oem today in Writer's Almanac...there must be pulsing in the air...
Places I Have Heard the Ocean
by Faith Shearin
In a cat's throat, in a shell I hold
to my ear — though I'm told
this is the sound of my own
blood. I have heard the ocean
in the city: cars against
the beach of our street. Or in
the subway, waiting for a train
that carries me like a current.
In my bed: place of high and low
tide or in my daughter's skates,
rolling over the sidewalk.
Ocean in the trees when they
fill their heads with wind.
Ocean in the rise and fall:
lungs of everyone I love.


Deb Colarossi said...

I'm so pleased for you.. that you are allowing yourself to find pleasure and freedom out of the comfort zone so to speak...
I so get this ..

Thinking of you always.

Deb Cushman said...

Rhythm, courage, love...you are an amazing woman. Being open trying to new and different is a quality I admire in you.

Pam said...

Wonderful Deb! A wonderful testament to just diving in.Such happiness in unexpected things.

Nezzy said...

Oh miss Dee, these drums sound like they could quickly become passion of yours. Please tell us your gonin' to continue.

The freedom they have released in your words are amazin'!

God bless ya and have yourself a magnificent 'up~beat' day sweetie!!! :o)

Amber said...

This makes me want to try it! How fascinating. I have been making a point to listen to more music with no words, lately. Something in it gives me peace.

Happy Birthday to your Love!


Heidrun Khokhar said...

Powerful post.
Your way with words is as heart lifting to me as the drum was to you. The feeling of letting it all go and just be in the moment! And you were in that moment by chance!
It must have made the rest of the birthday quite special too.

Kathryn Grace said...

Oh, you and Walt must come to San Francisco sometime and drum with the drummers in Golden Gate Park. Or just listen. I've never attempted to carry our djembe over there, but often wished I had the strength! You describe so well the goodness of it.