“step one: get a drum”

by tobias crabtree

i pedaled back up the hill. it’s chilly tonight. as i rode up on the property that nick and elizabeth call home, i could hear a drum.

a single drum, not a drum circle or a group, just one. i rode in through the gate and parked the bike and followed the sound into the house. there was nick in the half-light, head down, slapping the skin of the drum that elizabeth bought for him.  i think the drum is from senegal or somewhere close. it’s sound is deep and mixes well with nick’s disposition.

i danced for about ten minutes to the beat. nick finally took a break and we talked about drums. i spoke of the movie, “the visitor”, and nick asked me about it. i told him how it was about an old man finding music through a drum. i think that movie changed the way i think about music. it helped me connect the dots about how music is in our blood, regardless our culture or upbringing, it’s there, like a dream waiting to be remembered.

i wondered aloud to nick about the old days, in africa, when tribes pounded on drums to tell other tribes how they felt. we both imagined that feeling. nick and i are not that far away from that kind of communication. he and i could speak through smoke or drums or whistles, no problem.  we talked back and forth about the use of drums in human evolution. he said, “it’s still here. it’s still possible,” and then after a pause, he finished, “step one: get a drum.”

i let my imagination go quite often. i like to imagine what it would be like if our leaders really did believe in the preservation of our planet. no, i mean, like, they really did mean it. what would it mean? first of all, i think there would be more dancing. i think there would be more talking between one another. i think music would thrive.  i think war would abate. the oceans would get cleaner and life as we know it would become more simple. we would need to re-learn basic skills and everyone would get callouses on their hands. hard work would make a come-back and billionaires would become extinct. wrinkled faces would be beautiful and beauty magazines would be used to start fires so we could dance to the beat of the drums. the stars would seem brighter because people would be noticing them for the first time in their lives. the seas would return to their pre-industrial silence and the whales would sing wildly through the blue with their massive, ancient tongues.

and up on the land, the drums, man, the drums.