Monday, November 22, 2010

When Was the Moment the String Struck?

So I was listening to a concert by my amazing Indian singer friend, Tara Kini, and my ear caught on to the drone of the tambura, which got me thinking about chance, which got me thinking about turtles and donuts, which got me thinking about Dan and poi, and how these things all factor into my life. I'll explain the chain of association momentarily, but first a little aside...

You'll hear me mention Dan and poi a lot in these entries. Burning Dan is a friend of mine who recently passed away. He was a teacher and master of the art of spinning poi , and he inspired me in a lot of ways. The Page of Possibility is my way of honoring him and passing along the awesome energy he transmitted to me. Poi is also a way I channel him and keep his memory alive.

Okay, onto turtles and donuts. My mother, who is a Zen Buddhist, told me a story when I was a kid about the odds of being born human. She said, "If a single innertube is floating in the sea, the chances of a turtle swimming up to the surface and sticking its head through the hole are about the same as the chances of becoming a human." In a teen meditation group, I heard the story retold with a different twist. “Imagine there's a donut floating in the sea. It's a vanilla donut with chocolate glaze and crushed peanuts decorating the top. If such a donut even exists, and a turtle pokes its head through the hole before it disintegrates in the salt water, you MIGHT be born a human."

Now let's take that image and microcosmify it just a smidge. We’re human; we made it past the first hoop, donut, whatever. How about all of the other things and people and practices in our lives? I watched the tambura player's fingers pluck the strings, and thought about all of the empty space around those fingers and those strings. Because his fingers were so intimately connecting with the strings at that particular moment, it seemed obviously meant to be. But at some point in time, that instrument, those hands, and this particular permutation of singer, musicians, and audience were totally distant; unimaginable even. This is how I feel about Dan and poi.

The scale has gotten significantly smaller; let's say a tadpole in a tide pool with a cheerio. Maybe that tadpole will stick its head through the cheerio, but it'll probably take a few tries. It might swim right past it, not paying the cheerio any mind. It might see it and decide not to go through. It might try to poke its head, miscalculate, and knock up against the side. But hey, it's closer than it ever was before, right? And then, one day, BULLSEYE!!!

A million circumstances led me to Dan and poi. I had encountered poi at Camp Winnarainbow 10 years before, learned a trick or two, hadn't been bitten. Met Dan at a party and saw him spin fire; impressive, but not for me. Went to spin jams and parties, learned a few more tricks; fun, but totally over my head. And just at that bridge time -- the electric overlap of Dan's last moments as a person on the planet and the moments after he merged with The Force -- it caught. Returning to the tambura metaphor, I had found the instrument. I had struck the note many times with varying degrees of success. Now, the note was striking a chord in me. Dan, I wish you were around for this, but I thank you for passing along the gift that now resonates through my entire being.

There's my story. Now, tell me yours. What person, practice, or thing came into your life and touched you deeply, and when was the moment the string struck?

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