August Taiko Talk
By: Allison Ballard
I am on a month-long work retreat at Kealakelua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am living on a live volcano in a cottage 300 feet from the water. I come out every morning to sun and read and swim and I go in every afternoon to work uninterrupted. The energy is primal and deep, the sun is hot and the water is d-i-v-i-n-e and blue, oh so blue. And that is why I am here….to be in and on and around all that water. It calls to me all the way back home in Indiana.
I swim in the bay every morning with yellow fish and sea turtles. The water is warm and clear and not too deep. Free of gravity and pumiced by salt crystals, I am my happiest, most authentic self when I am immersed in all that blue bliss. Infinity beckons and I am never afraid.
If I swim to the north side of this protected bay, the water is calm; on the south side, waves roll in and crash against black and white lava rocks that line the shore, making it look as if the Gods have salted and peppered their favorite meal. As a result of this infinite loop of aquatic yin and yang, big pieces of lava rock have created a tidal pool on the south side that visitors use as an entry point. It is really the only access point available on this rocky shore. Unless someone is inspired to do a mad climb down and over slippery, sharp rock, anyone who wants to access the water enters through the tidal pool.
Children and families love it because it creates a game: the waves crash in and the pool fills up; the waves recede and the pool empties out, pulling everything in the tidal pool with it. It’s not necessarily a strong pull…it’s usually easy enough to resist…but nonetheless, swimmers feel themselves being sucked into a channel bordered by sharp lava rock on either side and sharp lava rock submerged below… so whether yielding or resisting, one has to maneuver the waves and rock. If moving through and out into the blue beyond, this channel needs to be navigated. If hanging out in the tidal pool, this channel needs to be navigated. Either way, one has to figure out how to avoid cut feet or scraped limbs or God forbid, a banged head.
After a week and a half of this daily maneuver, I have learned a few things:
Position self carefully.
Look out for others.
Protect your feet.
Be wary of what you cannot see.
Take all variables into consideration (wind, water, current, tide, bodies, etc.)
And then I realized the same is true with taiko. You can’t just jump into the blissful fray that comes with playing a song as part of a cohesive group. The access point to all that bliss has a channel that must be maneuvered. The channel is lined with learning curves, physical challenges, intrapersonal dynamics, interpersonal dynamics, communication issues, logistics, funding, equipment, infrastructure, hierarchies, energy, creativity, time…the tide surges in and out creating waves that can scrape you up against sharp rocks. Navigation is needed. Fortunately, the resonance of the drum creates an energy that is primal, deep and full…like living on a live volcano. Like the lull of the water, this energy creates a GPS system that calls me home, not to some geographic location but to an infinite place where I can be my most authentic self. And that’s why I keep diving in!
Don doko don,