I stood in the alley and watched the guest taiko drummers pull away after a blissful week of workshops, performances and lecture-demonstrations…and of course they took their drums with them. Of course they did! I just didn’t see it coming. It was 1997 and I had been so caught up in one joyful moment after another that I really didn’t think that far ahead. It wasn’t until they were driving off that it hit me….those big beautiful drums that had been the source of all that joy were now heading down the alley. I ran after the truck as if it was a lifeboat leaving me behind.
 
“Hey,” I yelled frantically. The departing drummers stuck their heads out the window and waved.
“Hey!” I yelled again. “Where do we get drums?” The one question I failed to ask during their week-long residency. It was the single, most important question and I had failed to ask it.
 “They’re expensive!” they yelled back as their wide load continued making its way down the narrow alley. “Make them yourself!”
“How? How do we make them?” The truck was now near the street. “Wait! Stop!” I pleaded, realizing this alley was nowhere near long enough for me to get the answers I needed.
 “There are directions on the internet!” they yelled. “Good luck!” And they were gone. Just like that, the drums were gone.
 
I stood alone and watched the truck turn onto the street, merge into traffic, stop at the light and then continue its long journey home. I stood in the graveled alley and played with the rocks at my feet as I absorbed the gravity of the moment. I leaned against the cool shaded side of the building and felt the rough brick rub abrasively against my skin. The drums were gone, but I wasn’t done; I wanted more. I considered my options. There weren’t many. The best I could do was just yield to the moment and muster the willingness to take the next step, any step that would move me forward.
 
So I entered the building, climbed the stairs and returned to the office. I stood quietly by Liz’s desk and waited for her attention. She paused at her computer and looked up.
“Great week, wasn’t it?” she said.
I nodded.
“So much fun!” she added.
I nodded.
“What?” she asked, finally noticing the look on my face.
“I think we should start a taiko group,” I said. “Here in Fort Wayne.” I dared to say it out loud.
“Yeah, right,” she said. “You work on that.”
“Okay,” I said. “I will.”
 
And I did. We did. We made drums. And we learned how to play them. Fueled by will and passion, we started from ground zero. We plowed the field and planted the seeds and 18 years later Fort Wayne Taiko is a vibrant program of the Fort Wayne Dance Collective. We provide taiko opportunities to children, youth and adults throughout Northeast Indiana.
 
Dong doko dong! And Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true!
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