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By Allison Ballard, Director of Fort Wayne Taiko
Sometimes I just feel flat. There may be countless reasons why. I’m struggling with a relationship or a work problem or I’m not sleeping well or eating well or I’m overwhelmed with so many things to do that I just shut down. Or, or, or….it doesn’t really matter why. For me, the end result is I feel flat. I move through my daily tasks like a robot.  I do this, I do that…I may even do whatever I’m doing well enough. But there’s no passion. No joy. There’s not even necessarily angst. I’m just flat.
It’s hard for me to taiko when I feel that way. It’s hard for me to approach the drum. Harder still to stand in front of the drum. Almost impossible to play the drum. Propelling a stick through space and letting it fall against a taiko takes energy and intent. I can’t play taiko like a robot. The drum demands that I interact with it as a human being. A feeling human being who has something to offer. My experience with the drum is that it is willing to receive my frustration, my joy, my fear, my excitement, my anger, my gratitude…it doesn’t judge what I have to offer, but it does require an offering. It does ask that I bring something to the table.
Knowing this, it is easy for me to talk myself out of drumming when I feel flat. It just seems like the whole experience will require more than I have to give. But when I show up anyway, something magical happens. Even if I approach the drum as a robot, something shifts as I begin to play. I give to the drum, the drum gives back to me and we grow in relationship with each other…a relationship that is anything but flat. I can’t stay flat with the resonance of the taiko coming up through my feet, vibrating through my core and rushing out my arms. Sometimes the best I can do is yield to all that energy. On a good day, I can surf it like a wave. At my worst, I may feel like I am drowning in it. Either way, I feel. Something. I may show up as a robot, but I leave as a human being. A grateful human being.
Dong doko dong!