I communicate in many languages. But my lexicon doesn’t contain words per se. No, I’m not talking about texting but of a communication so beautiful no words are necessary.
In seasonal poetry gatherings each of us brings a random poem to read aloud. The words we share are not our own but the understanding we glean from the words of others. While some may be serious, others witty, or thought provoking — and on any topic of choosing, a common thread soon appears. Ah, no doubt the Universe is at play here we chuckle each time we recognize the unintentional theme that connects us together.
The languages I convey do not use technology, social media, or heaven forbid a cell phone. A verbal silence in hand drumming makes room for magic. When words do not appear, the voice of the drums speaks profoundly through our creative energy. Rhythms intertwine, calling, responding, supporting, expressing, wandering, somewhere…but together.
Standing in my kitchen, I cook. My focus is lovingly preparing a tasty meal, and setting a table that honors the food and the ones it nourishes. Sitting together then and savoring this offering of utilitarian sensory art reveals the unseen ingredient.
Sharing the bounty of my garden, holding the door open for someone, offering a smile, anyone can understand. I do not need to say one word to communicate with anyoneanywhere. All of us can speak the same language when we do not use words.
Driving home on this rainy Saturday evening, the windshield wipers are paragraphs separating my thoughts. I’ve been hand-drumming for 3 hours in a drum circle at the local health food store. Some of the participants I’ve known for decades, others I met today.
The face of my friend flashes through my mind. We lunched earlier at a neighborhood deli whose house-made bread is better than anything in Manhattan for sure. I met Meg through hand drumming a decade ago. We smile, laugh, talk serious. We are not looking down at our phones because we intentionally have unsophisticated, un-smart phones. Just practical little devices for emergency. That makes sense to us. Neither of us wants to be tethered to technology. We talk dogs, travel, gardening. The wonder of a kindergartener seeing a real robin or eating a nasturtium.
“What does it taste like?” I am curious to know.
“A little peppery,” she says, and especially to a five-year old.
“I’ve always wanted to grow asparagus,” I tell her. “I put it in with rhubarb last year.” She nods, confirming my assumption that they are good companions. My friend teaches biology. I hope she can teach me about growing asparagus. “I didn’t know what to do with it at the end of last season…now I’ve got a 12” stalk like you see in the grocery store but next to it is a 4-5’ high, tree-like stalk but much thinner…” I show her with my hands. “It’s actually got several thin branches that also look like asparagus…”
“My friend Margaret grew asparagus. I can ask her,” she offers.
“Great! I’ll send you a photo to show her.”
“She doesn’t do e-mail so she would have to come to my house and look at my phone.”
If anyone can easily explain how to properly grow asparagus please contact me!
Hmmm. This is interesting I think. There are more people than the handful in my Social Media workshop and me who are intentionally not wired, or loosely.
My friend and I agree how much we love getting together for lunch or dinner, being in nature, the warmth of human communication. Her eyes twinkle when I share a bit of synchronicity with her. “Good thing you were aware, and paying attention to notice all those things,” she says. Good thing you weren’t looking down at your phone and I could see your smile I think.
“I notice and appreciate nature more and more each year. I’ve never considered myself very religious, but a spiritual person,” I tell her. “I’ve been reading more of the Tao and it speaks truth to me. Everywhere.” Her smile confirms we are on the same page. I like making eye contact and our welcome and parting hugs.
Swish-swish. Swish-swish. The parting conversation with another friend at the drum circle pops into my head. “I’m addicted to my phone,” he confesses then shows me a photo another drumming friend posted 17 minutes ago. I confide that I’ve signed-up for a Social Media workshop, that I’m hoping to find a balance so I can still function in a technological society but not become an addict.
“Did you see the 60 Minutessegment on technology intending to make you addicted to your phone?” I ask, feeling fear and audacity rising within me.
“Well, I don’t think they want you to be addicted,” he says. “Just use it a lot.”
I can’t imagine having to ask others to like me I think. It just sounds so, so unnatural. Either you like me or you don’t, but do you have to announce it to the world? Is privacy passé? Social media is the antithesis of my values. I’ve never wanted 1,000 friends. That sounds too exhausting. I like the quality ones I have and they know it. Solid, true friends sharing quality time together… Does the world need to know that? Swish-swish. Swish-swish. The wipers clear away the thoughts that have kept me true to my values but from going with the crowd and against my own grain.
Faces of people I’ve hand-drummed with over the years are a slide show in my mind. The deep connection we’ve developed through hand drumming is like the comfort of a best friend yet I may not know the person, their last name, career, education, socio-economic status, ethnicity, where they live, or any other defining label, and it doesn’t matter. We speak a universal language that has no words but is expressed from hands to hearts, through conga drums, djembes, doumbeks, bongos, or any other piece of percussion (we are not prejudice). Hand drumming is yin-yang conversing — talking and listening at the same time.
I’ve often described hand drumming as cooking a large vat of soup where everyone adds a little something different be it a vegetable, herb, color or spice, and soon the flavor deepens, the aroma permeates the air and it’s evolved into something so darn good that I wonder why people do recreational drugs when they can hand drum.
Swish-swish. Slowing rain reveals the lush green mountainside. Rounding the corner, I’m home now, welcomed by dogwoods brilliant as the full moon, and bursting pinks. I’m breathless from the splendor of spring. Can social media really do that for me?