When I was teaching English in Japan between the ages of 28 and 30, I first saw taiko - Japanese drumming.  It was an all-male troupe and I liked it.  When I came back to Chicago, I saw a local temple's taiko group perform.  The difference was that this performance featured three strong women drummers.  I was blown away!  I had one of those visceral responses (I felt this was the right word, but I wasn't sure what it meant, so I looked it up -- it means "coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason; felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body" -- this is exactly what I felt).    I felt this feeling in my gut -- it was excitement and it was "I love this!" 

Six years later, I was helping at a different Buddhist temple's summer festival.  Someone came up to me and said, "Patti, do you want to help start a taiko group?"  My first thought was, "I'm 37.  I'm a little old to start drumming."  But then, what flashed through my mind was, "If I say no to this, when I'm dying, I'm going to look back and I'm going to regret it."  So I ended up starting a taiko group at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago when I was 37, and I loved it and still do.  It opened up a whole new path in my life.  I left the temple group and started my own group, and my daughter played with us.  Sometimes, she and I would play mother-and-daughter taiko at schools.  Once, we played at a social service agency where we performed for teen-age girls.  I saw the looks on their faces when they looked at my daughter. It was as though they saw a new possibility - they saw a teen-age girl on a stage where normally they saw only males performing.  It was empowering for them.  I've sometimes lugged my taiko to the 63rd St. Beach drum circle, where I'm always a little shy because there aren't any other women drumming, and no else has a big drum like mine, so people notice me.  But everyone is invariably friendly and welcoming, and women will come up to me and tell me they love my drumming. 

I tell people about my experience, about that powerful visceral response I had, and how when you feel that, you should listen to it and follow it.  I try to live that way, not thinking I'm too old to do something, and being open, curious and adventurous. 

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