Drumming Away

by Simon Goland, May 2, 2010

Today’s Reflection is about a recent drumming weekend in Seattle.


“I have had many teachers in my life,” he said. “My most important one right now, and for many years is her. She will always tell me when I am present, engaged, in my heart… Or not. When I am, she will participate, play with me, evoke the deepest energies and passion, and help me bring the Spirit in. When I am not, she will let me know. Immediately.”


“Let what we love be what we do.  There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” – Rumi

When the drumming workshop facilitator, Pepe Danza said the above (OK, I paraphrased a bit, mainly because I couldn’t remember how beautifully he articulated his thoughts), his drum was the “she” that he referred to. One of the things that stays with me from this moment is the attitude of being present, open, and deeply and intimately engaged with the world around. In all its forms. A profound way of being with one’s life. Only it is not always easy…

Like this past Saturday, where I had plans to work for a bit, hike a lot, read, and do whatever I was planning to do on a nicely free day. I was savouring it already. Yet, it was not meant to be, because Tobi woke me up at about 5 AM, needing to go out. And it continued, every hour, for a good part of the day, because of his upset stomach. In between, I could not fall asleep, yet was not coherent enough to do anything of meaning or use. Being present with one’s life, in a profound way (or even half-profound), was completely out of the question. Despite my many attempts, the day was a write-off, and the only thing I was engaged with is my tiredness and general annoyance with the world that chose to not cooperate with my enlightened plans for the day.

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trial.” – Confucius

The day was not a write-off after all; I simply needed a time-out from preparations for a new course I am about to start teaching. Apparently, I also needed a reminder to follow-up the drumming workshop and Pepe’s words, whereby one’s greatness is not measured when everything is great. Humility is indeed a first frontier of learning.