Recently I remembered that I am a musician, and more specifically, a singer. I may not have the best or most powerful voice, but I can carry a tune. I prefer to sing with other people because of a vestigial childhood shyness that I haven't completely conquered yet. I've been in and out of choirs for the past 15 years or so searching for the right place, with little luck.
My main frustration with being in choirs is that you rehearse and rehearse and then you perform for maybe 20% of a religious service. The rest of the time is gobbled up by the ritual of the lesson, reading, and mundane announcements. These aren't bad things, really. I'm just not interested. I want more of that magic of producing music with others. That's what fills my cup. The lesson is nice, I guess, and the sermon could go either way. But the music did it for me, spiritually speaking.
And getting my family to go to church has been a lesson in futility. The kids don't want to go and Doc's schedule usually prevents him from going. Our hearts aren't in it. Plus, Sundays are made for looking inward and getting the house in order. And poker.
In the meantime, I started getting together regularly with people from work to play Rock Band, which is fun and a quick and easy way to get to that camaraderie. I get a lot of joy from this and I'm pretty sure that my colleagues do too. It's a good time and we have bonded over it. I know that it's helped us build bridges with each other and work is easier because of it.
I did join a choir of three at a UU church, which was a unique experience but didn't have the manpower to get off the ground. Also, I felt stifled by the PC approach to every. single. fucking. thing. It was so rigid for an organization that espoused tolerance. But we had some moments and I met some great people, to whom I am still connected. But it was still not enough.
Elizabeth knows me well. We met in 1989 and have been steady friends ever since. She knows this stuff about me already. Because of my need to produce music, she doggedly kept setting "Kirtan" in front of me. It's a kind of call and response chanting that originated in India. It seemed strange and foreign (it is) and surrounded by people who seem fanatically devoted to the practice. I was skeptical...
But I trust her, so I decided to join her for a regular monthly Kirtan session in the art gallery in downtown Canton. It was Elizabeth, the Cap'n, me and a very nice person named Brenda. We were led by Su, who played guitar and harmonium. She led us in some chants and a meditation. But the point is that 80% of this was singing. And I felt open afterwards. Like the bouncers around my heart finally uncrossed their arms and opened the ropes to let me in, out.
I was very sensitive for several days afterwards and my intuition was working overtime; I was making very certain predictions about the future that were coming true. Nothing major, but I knew where certain mundane things were headed and I trusted that intuition. It paid off for me. I had removed the obstacles between my instincts and my decision-making. After all, I am 40 years old; there should be some things that I should just know.
Since then I've been to two more kirtan things: Once more with Su and another at a local holistic center. I believe the little gathering with Su is something super special and nothing will be able to compete with the way that goes. The other one was supposed to be bigger and the more the merrier, I've been told. This one wasn't as big as they expected; the local blues festival was competing with it and won.
I'm not sure I got the most out of it because of exterior interference (my phone rang, my pants were uncomfortable, the leader was a dude who seemed at times to be very sexual, which made me uncomfortable). But still, when I left, I felt good...filled up...centered...open, the heart bouncers at rest again.
And I realized that I don't think I'll be able to live without it in my life. And that is good but it comes with some challenges. I figure that I'll have to hitch my wagon to some people who tend to approach the world with a hippier than though approach. The kind of people who refer to themselves as "enlightened" or "evolved." I may befriend these people who may be annoyed by my glib attitude to this sort of thing.
I will also have to keep fighting back the image of the hare krishnas in Airplane! and Hair with their glazed over eyes and aggressive cheerfulness, praying that that won't be me in six months. Especially since I personally feel that I could join a kirtan that lasted for days and not care a bit that days had gone by.
Despite what complications my staunch squareness verses their infuriating dudeness may cause, when the "Om's" start, we are all one in music anyway. So, what the hey...I'm coming out of the closet.
And if you see me in an airport someday, please don't punch me in the face.