Friday, September 26, 2008

Drum Circle - IV: The last of us

Drum Circle I, Drum Circle II, Drum Circle III

I'm not sure how I want to dazzle this crowd. Should I do my version of the Tandav, yknow, to microcosm the duality of creation and destruction? Or perhaps the cliched rhythm evolution, from morse code to music.....Or maybe I should just say something first.

I'm at the front of the stage now, crouched down so that the stage mics on the floor can pick up my voice. I've got sweaty palms, but something tells me I can do little wrong tonight.

"When You and i
see eye-to-eye, there's a third murmur
that escapes the heart"

A soft bass begins on the kpanlogos - 3rd beat in a bar of 4

"And when we dance,
we immerse ourselves, into all that's bliss
all that's bliss"

The cajons join in, a snare-like 4/4

grace our dance,
drink and sing,
become one with us"

Nora's seen the grin on my face, and I'm not sure how but I can tell she knows where I'm going with this. She'd left me halfway through the second verse but is back now with a mic in hand.

Nora: "So we're dancing now?"
Me: "I hope so. Do you want to start us off?"

The drums all stop. One count, two counts, three counts, four.

Nora taps her naked left foot on the stage. The bells on her ankles and the hollowed woody sound of the stage twist together in my head. It feels like a distant, cosmic sound dopplering past me, each tap lasting an age, each tap still so transient.

"We're lucky if we dream
while we sleep, we're luckier
if we sleep without a dream" *1*

"That's when you lose the 'I'
become king and pauper, all at once
That's when you peek into every life,
every mind your own, every song, every dance" *2*

I suspect I've lost the crowd by now, but I can't help myself. Nora and the drummers have been down this road with me before, and they don't have trouble slamming along.


"Last night, I died again,
woke up this a.m.,
older, wiser and

hungry as heck. " *3*

By now, we've gotten a groove going with the toms and djembes pitching in solos. The crowd doesn't care what's said as long as the groove holds. A couple of people are on the floor, doing some exotic snake dance (solidarity with the brown guy on stage).


"It feels like I've been fighting,
fighting maya all my life,
so why do I care now
if maya says goodbye?" *4*

And he follows it up with a fast ditty on the crash. Crash, silence, crash, silence, crash.

It's not smooth... The loudness there creates a silence in my head. The lights seem to dim two shades. That isn't where I wanted to go. It'll take some doing to bring back the sunshine now, keeping the meter and the we don't bother. Nora remains at the front of the stage, dancing with the crowd, and the rest of us build the beat, rising and falling, in tempo and volume, like the sea over many nights.

Eventually, the jam grinds down to a low background patter, and there's a brief round of applause. The crowd slowly makes their way to the door, and we begin to collect our instruments. Our jam wasn't a sizzler but we're content with the awkward set we've played. I'm just hoping the lounge will let us in again next week.

*1* The upanishads describe dreamless sleep as that state where our consciousness withdraws itself from the mind, and the entity that comprises each person can retreat into what's best described as a Jung-ian collective subconscious.

*2* This state, of ego withdrawn from the unique ID called the mind, leaves us equal in all respects, and every thought in this subconscious state is a shared one.

*3* In fact, the very concept of sleep is thought of as similar to death, where our seven-sheathed personality temporarily strips itself down to the core. This frees us of the trappings of the illusory world. Possibly the all-time best segue in any situation - "Broke eh? Ah well, everything is maya anyways.." The next morning though, the hangover arrives, or worse, it's a Monday, and we have to deal with life as this outermost sheath of our personality perceives it.

*4* Maya straight up, is illusion. And reality as our senses perceive it, is not different from illusion. When even little electrodes hooked up to the brain can confuse our senses, it's conceivable that our perceived reality is illusory, whether solipsistic or perhaps just part of a giant computer program where 'destiny' is a state machine input. So why worry when the soul exits the sheath?

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