Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunset Celebration

Saturday Evening

The beach was crowded, but not like beaches are normally crowded with blankets spread out in front of the shore, everyone vying for the best spot. This was different. People were gathered in a circle; many had drums, some had tambourines or maracas, a few had on India shawls that had little metals discs that made a delightful sound as the body moved and danced. There were children and adults in the center of the circle twirling Hooh-la Hoops and one man was swing bolos and one was swinging numchuks to the rhythm of the drums and some were just swaying to the beat. Their ages spanned the entire spectrum. There was a man that seemed to be the shaman, he looked like an old surfer-dude with a long blonde ponytail that danced as he shook rattles and then pounded a large flat drum. He moved around the circle encouraging everyone to let loose and partake of the spirit.

The occasion: Sunset. They gather to put the sun to bed for the night.

We arrived shortly before sunset. First I went to the water to put my feet in the water, but looking back at it, I think instinctually I went to the water to cleanse my spirit before I approached the circle of drummers. We stood on the outside with our backs to the sun facing the main group of drummers; they had some really large drums that resonated deeply. Many people sat all around the circle with small drums.

I really didn’t want to engage in idle conversation, so I walked to the back of the circle facing the sun. There I was just behind all the biggest drums and their sound pulsed through my body and I began to sway. I wasn’t brave enough to join the dancers in the center of the circle, but I wanted to.

The sun was making its way to the horizon. There were a cluster of clouds just above the horizon, and some beautiful wispy clouds that streaked the sky. The world was cast in the fire of its light and the sky was turning purple. I was torn, should I partake of the spectacle in front of me or above me? I moved between to the two. I noticed that there were birds moving across the shoreline on their way to some unknown spot to spend the night. Not just a few birds, hundreds of birds in a steady river of flight. There were seagulls, of course, but there were also pelicans, and terns. They flew in rhythm to the beat.

From my vantage point I saw it all. I participated in it all. I was all. That’s when I realized I was smiling. My being was smiling.

My attention was drawn to a drummer near me, he was a young man in his early thirties, he looked like any normal guy that worked as a entry level manager in an office somewhere. No long ponytails, earrings or tattoos. Just a nice young man who probably drove a ten year old Toyota Corolla. He was good, he never lost the rhythm, he maintained the beat with ease. He loved what he was doing and I’m sure he has been doing this for some time. He was the essence of this celebration.

As the sun moved closer to the horizon, the beat increased in speed. The dancing became more frenzied. Some people stood up and faced the sun. The birds were still coming. Hundreds of them. The sun was very close to the horizon. It was moving below the clouds and approaching the rim of the horizon, dipping the first edge into the water. Some one began to blow a conch shell. The sound was plaintive and haunting; perfectly suited to saying goodnight to a dear one.

It was then that I felt completely at one with all that was before me. I was the drums, the dancers, drummers, birds, sand, spectators and the sun.

The drums were still pounding out their rhythm; the sun was almost gone. The conch shell gave one last long wail and the dancers all paused to watch as the sun quietly slipped away. In one final crescendo the drumming ceased. The lullaby was complete.
My heart felt full, my body was at peace and I felt happy. Afterwards, I walked to the water’s edge and dipped in my toes. The I rejoined Jon and our friends and life began again.

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