The Way of the Wood

by Butterfly

Some people find their way in the life of the wood. Thatís true. They like, designs in sands creating roads that go on and on. Drums. I shoí love the sound of Ďem. This drummer, Hamid Drake, man his playing set something awake inside me. Me? Who am I? I sípose you call me. . .Touched. Yeah, thatís just fine.

You ever git something in you, I mean something that travels so deep in you that it makes you see things in your past? So deep in you that you just know it came from somewhere else? I mean it has some sort of history in you? You see, itís that thing thatís in you early, and lays inside you until that other thing, that bigger thing comes to claim it. And that bigger thing, man, it knows exactly where to find it. Itís spiritual. Yeah, thatís what it is. Itís spirits and souls. Na holí on. I ainít talking about that stuff in supermarket flyers or magic balls and all that glamour stuff. Iím talking decisions. Iím talking about seeing. The kind of seeing that makes a thief become a saint, a man walk away from his familyówho is in dire need of him, mind youóto write words that unleash all sorts of questions in people all over the world. Or, could be a little boy who beats some sticks together. Yeah spirits and souls. You know I never heard nobody say, ďIt was a wonderful thang.Ē You know, going through it and all. Cuz you know when they come back, them spirits, I mean. They come back something fierce. Itís all Ďbout 24hours a day or so, but mostly when you sleep or when you thinking. You know that drift-thinking some say daydreaming.

Anyway, I was talking about this drummer, Hamid. Iímo tell you, the first time I saw him play was about five years ago in Chicago at a place called the Heartland Cafť. I never, in my whole lifeóand I gotta lifeóseen nobody play like him, never. Never heard it. Man, I mean what I say. Never! You get me? Iímo tell you something. When heís in his element, his soloís, itís like a massive earthquake happening and following, a land develops. Like all your preconceived ideas about life, they just crumble when you hit with something that just. . .changes your mind and you left with this land of your self. Then he plays slow these percussive instruments and itís like watching smoke, rich, cumulus, gray smoke in overcast slither from a chimney. That smoke is you traveling on that land moving in all directions. Everywhere you go you design your road.

Na they got thousands of music magazines and write all kinds of articles and such on music. But I betchu canít nobody hear nothing from them folksí writing. Shoot, after a while, them folks díun fell so in love with they own writing, they forgot they writing about music completely. And if you ainít never heard the kind of music they talking about, how you goní hear it in all dím adjectives? You get me? You get where Iím going with this? I canít name stick or skin, nor can I name leaf or tree, but I. . .hear. . .them. That man play díem drums and woo wee!

You know how the room gets dark to highlight somebody on stage? First time I saw him play, oh, I guess it was Ďbout 5 winters ago. The room didnít get darker, díem drums just . . .lit up. Itís not that I was scared, I was, I was just touched. But I started seeing things, you know? Mostly trees. The trees of my past unfolding like blooming yawns; real soft. The ones that always beeníere for me. See I love trees around this time; the winter time. I remember seeing them when I was little as arms. And they reached and reach and traveled so far. Just one branch traveled so far. I remembered the ones I careÖfulÖly climbed in and let my arms go as far as they could. I became obsessed with this drummerís work cuz it made me see. Everywhere he played I could get to, Iíd go so I could see. Na, ainít that the tick? I goes only where I wants. Donít follow nobody. You get me? Nobody. But I followed díem drums like a habit follows a love.

Them drums come from my trees. Iím city na, but I love me some trees. Donít care for no animals and all that fairy stuff. I wouldnít even say I get all into trees like them study folks. And I ainít going to no school to study Ďem. You get me? But I always love me some trees. Always. Hearing that drummer, I guess I just see Ďem clearer. It wasnít long before I started seeing other things though. Na this, this leads me to what my friends may call, Nutville. Hey, weíre in the millennium. Some things for TV, you know? Anyway, I met Atu. Na, Atuís a woodcarver. He loves trees. He does study Ďem and gives lectures on them too. I mean like heís a keeper or guard for them, or something like that. I mean he knows them. I met him one night when he gave a lecture at the on woodcarving. He liked the works I performed related to drums and so we talked a bit. One day we met up and drove to DuSable Park. On the way we drove around to look at trees and collect orphaned wood. Atu went into a lot of detail about why he chose certain pieces. Some he chose simply by what he heard and felt. In the DuSable Park he showed me how he listens. He danced to nothing but trees. His arms stretched out, not a direct stretch, but just like sticks making designs in sands laying down roads after them. I never forgot that dance because I heard it. You get me? I heard the music. Blessed thang to see. Shoí was. Blessed. I remember the look on his face, his eyes closed. He had to have seen níem. Cuz you know, later, when I heard them drums again, I did. I saw them spirits all around him.

When Iím outside or mainly in my room, boy dím folks start filling up with they sounds. Everybody has a story, you know. I listened to a lot of Ďem. Iím talking Ďbout them spirits and souls. Now keep in mind no glamour stuff okay? For one, they not like people. Youíre not sitting in chairs having heart to heart talks using the English language. Naw, itís your rhythm. Itís your vibes. Itís the tunes of you. Some say we made up of mostly water. Naw, itís rhythm. Trees, trees full of rhythms. And I have to keep telling you not to romanticize on what Iím saying and hear me. You know when the head ainít ready to see something itíll show something else. Like folks may say drums exotic or sexual or they think of tribes and rituals and such. Thatís the something else they headíll show, the glamour. But the reality could be history preserved. The richness of the music could be the care taken in picking the wood or, could be plain old respect. Na whereís the glamour in that? Ainít that the tick. Thatís a whole lot more than glamour, huh?

Well this I sípose leads me to this whole thing. Sometimes those bigger things come back and put so much on one person or in one person, you know. I see and hear that in the drummer. I hear him and them drums make me see. Now maybe I ainít part of they thang but somehow I got caught up in it. I donít want it. Iím a black American. I ainít searching for no face that ainít mine. You get me? I love the day I met that man as much as I curse it. I tell you after fighting so much with my head I sat down to see some thangs. Like when I was a kid the trees were like my family or gypsies that I wanted to follow. They posed like questions. They did the funny poses like thinking and some of the feminine ones, you just knew. Boy they were elegant. I see them as Iím now older on Lake Shore Drive rides. Man, they a sight. Thing is, folks think you be daydreaming, but thatís not the case. For every beauty you get, you can get five times as many tragics.

I remember not the things I forgot, but reasons why I wanted to forget. Different and unique. They sound similar but man, they shoí ainít. Unique, folksíll pay a big price for. Everybody want unique, but different means you ainít right. You just ainít right. And that can be a hard thing to go through when you a kid. You try to force out or suppress so many sounds in your head because supposedly it ainít right to hear and talk a certain way. Thing is, all you got is feelings and vibes. You ainít got no facts, you see. You got intuition. You got these sounds. Thatís a difficult tick, you know? But folks with they need for facts, so afraid of trusting the inside. Man, itís like show me Pain and Iíll say it can hurt. Can you really do that? I mean they feelings! You know a long time ago drums were outlawed cuz folks was afraid of Ďem. They didnít know what they were saying when the slaves would play them, but they knew they were talking. White folks thought slaves were sending messages to one another and on how to escape or attack. You know the seed of that law sprouted into so many laws, rules and beliefs to this very day? Folks still trying to outlaw one type of language or another. And language still finding ways to come out. Shoot. I tried to mute my whole self cominí up. My language seemed to go ďagainst the grainĒ so to speak. But language, man, language goní always speak. Folks donít know trees not only hold life and but so many languages. They donít know a treeís life span will have held thousands of people and situations, generations over and over, and thatís just us. Just us folks liviní na, in 2002. What about everything else including suns and moons? Folks donít know everything that goes in the wood. So if they donít know whatís goin in the wood, how they goní know whatís coming out, or why?

Anyway, for me, I feel that that bigger thing that came back to be claimed was. . . Right. Right to speak. Thatís what came back for me. I feel it by way language. Natural languages that make its way through the wood.

When you witness to something about the trees, I mean like what they do to you when you a kid, or their lives through drummers or woodcarvers, man you ainít nothing if not humble. I guess it goes both ways. For one, you know youíll never be able to explain what you more than anything man, more than anything, what you feel. For another, you hope you never can.

Na hereís where you really know nature came first. Her mark is only hers. You get me? She goní let you see everything Ďbout her. She goní let you follow her and donít care how long you stay in her sight but if she donít want you in, she ainít leaving no coordinates. Ha. You get me? When she wanna hear, hu ears in places you didnít know you had voice. But na when she wants to talk, man any voice she uses you better believe she díun put it to the test.

The Way of the Wood by Butterfly

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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