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first act

We watched the good dogs and threw around the Frisbee, waiting for a court to open for the Big Boys. The good dogs were boh-rohin' and the Big Boys were good throwin'. Drumbeats in the distance charged the air. When a court opened for the Big Boys, the mamas and the Brazey decided to check out the drumming and then pilfer the recycle bins.

We walked toward the grassy area below the bandstand. I expected a small crowd, a group of drummers, maybe a high school drum corp. Instead we saw one lone dude, smack in the center of the stage, wailin' on a First Act drum kit from Target: a mini bass, a snare, a tom, and a cymbal. It seemed he'd positioned himself to take full advantage of the acoustics in the bandstand.

We sauntered by and made jokes as we explored the Hopi woman statue and the maze around her. "What if I got on stage with him and did The Running Man?" I demonstrated. "He'd just keep wailin'" Mandy said.

The Status Quo part of me wanted to walk right by him again, avoiding eye contact, feigning indifference. But the part of me that cares about people, about connections, wanted to talk to him and find out what he was up to. Usually Status Quo wins. Usually I mind my own business. But today's the first day of 2009. It's just another Thursday. Just another Thursday.

"I'm gonna go talk to him."

I broke from my group and approached the bandstand. Dude took no notice until I was right at the edge of the stage, holding my hands out to either side in a "what gives?" gesture. I saw then that he was listening to music through headphones. He fumbled at his beltline and smiled sheepishly. "Is this some kind of social experiment?" I asked.

"I guess so," he said.

"You can hear it all over the park." I gestured east toward the track, south toward the playground.

"Really?" He ducked his head.

"Yeah. I thought I'd find a whole marching band here."

"Really? I'm just practicing."

In the span of those few seconds I came to a few conclusions. He's not some hipster hoping to gain attention. He's not some nutcase completely off his rocker. He's just a dude, playing drums at the park. I peppered him with more questions. It's his fourth afternoon in a row practicing at the park; he just got the set a few days ago; he got the "toy" set because it's easier to bring to the park; he's got 150 songs on his iPod and has 20 more songs to go so he'll probably be done today.

"And that's it?" I asked.

"Yeah. I guess so."

"You won't ever play again?"

"Oh, I'll practice in my apartment."

"Your neighbors are going to love that."

"I'm padding my closet. I'll practice in there."

"What's your goal?"

"I don't know... Happiness?"

Then I cut my gaze away. I faltered, completely bowled over by the simplicity. "Wow," I said. "My name's Becky," I said.

"My name's Josh," he said.

"Happy New Year."

As I turned away he continued wailing on his First Act drum kit. I joined my group again. Since then I've been thinking a lot about Josh's simple goal of happiness. Hoping to embrace that simple goal myself.

Hello, 2009.


Mim said…
Loved, loved, loved this post. I started taking piano lessons last fall, for no other reason than I want to be able to play. And it is helping with my happiness.
auntie m said…
I have always believed that we have to make our own happiness. We can choose to be happy or choose to be miserable. And you feel so much happier when you are happy.
Ana said…
First, Big Kudos to you for talkin' to the guy. And what a blessing that he turned out to be some angel reminding us of our purpose in life: happiness.
Beautiful post... Thanks, B.
Anonymous said…
What a gift to meet him, and be open to meeting him.

Happiness is so simple that we often miss it altogether. The drummer gets it.

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