Harsh Lessons on the Harvest Moon

It’s the full moon. Harvest Moon to be precise.

Guess where I am? 

That’s right! A drum circle! 

There’s about an hour left, but I’m not going to make it tonight. 

I hurt myself. 

Otherwise, I would be drumming instead of blogging. 

I fell victim to both a curse and blessing of the medicine of rhythm. From a music medicine perspective, Rhythm is medicine for the body. It brings us into alignment and connection with all life.

E. Thayer Gaston, the Father of Music Therapy, says that rhythm is the “organizer and energizer.”

It is said West African drum cultures send drummers into the fields to play rhythms to support the harvest. The harvesters can work longer with less fatigue due to the rhythmic support.

The trap I fell into tonight was giving myself over completely to the rhythm without giving attention to how my body was responding. 

Physically, I was not tired. My muscles were keeping up quite nicely with the groove. When the tempo increased, the intensity of my playing increased. I played hard.

This is the first time I brought the Senegalese djembe I carry to this drum circle, and the first time his voice has been heard in months.  

And he’s in excellent voice tonight! 

So together, we sang the rhythms, full voice. 

After several minutes of this beautifully intense drumming, the rhythm shifted and faded away. 

Only when I stopped drumming did I realize what had happened. 

I hurt myself. 

 I’m wearing my wrist and elbow supports...necessary from past repetitive motion injuries, but the damage was done.  

I tried to drum again, and was met with shooting pains. Even the egg shaker that lives in my pocket was too much. 

This is a cautionary tale.  

I’ve been drumming for years. I know to pay attention to my body, yet I got caught up in the moment. When Gloria Estefan said “the rhythm is going to get you,” she was right. 

While immersed in the wonderful trance of the dancing, and the drumming, and the fire, and the full moon, don’t forget to attend to that cord that grounds you in your physical reality. Respect all facets of that present moment. Listen to your body. 

Nothing more frustrating than sitting out the rest of the drum circle because of an injury. 

Tonight, I’ll load up on the Tiger Balm, and the pain meds and hope like hell I feel better in time for my morning practice schedule.