So I want thank:
I wish you a fantastic new year.
Letters to Domai
As an avid reader of your newsletter I thought I'd submit my own DOMAI anecdote:
It was the early winter of '83 and I'd just graduated from college. I wasn't quite sure where I was going in life, but it seemed like there wasn't really any urgent need to decide anytime soon, and that if I really wanted to, I could probably turn my hand to pretty much anything. This limitlessness of possibility spread out before me, filling me with dread and excitement in roughly equal measures.
At that time I was quite a keen drummer (of the djembe variety) and I had half a mind to forsake academia and attempt to pursue this hobby further as a way of earning a living. My parents' considered my enthusiasm for turning my back on my education as strong evidence that half a mind was indeed all I possessed, which of course fuelled my passion for drumming all the more.
Now it was around this time that I received a telephone call from a random woman asking me to come and drum for her. Little did I know that this would lead to one of the happiest experiences of my life. She explained that she was a member of a dance group and that they were performing at a party that evening. Unfortunately their regular drummer had fallen ill. She had heard me drumming at another party several weeks ago and somehow managed to track me down and get my number from a mutual friend.
There was little money in it, but I jumped at the opportunity, and agreed to turn up and drum for them. I'd heard good things about them before and understood their style to be an odd fusion of cheerleading, martial arts and tribal dance. I'd vaguely met a couple of them previously and we shared a number of mutual friends so I was pretty certain I'd get on with them okay.
So I turned up at the party later that evening, which was in a big field with a hill at the far end, and behind it a river. There was a sound system set up and loud dance music was blaring out from it. The field was already half-full with people, and the dance group was scheduled to perform in about an hour's time. It was a slightly cold but clear night and the moon was just a day or two off full. I was directed to where they were getting ready, which was just by the river, shielded from view by the hill.
So I climbed up the hill and down the other side to the stony river bank where they were busily applying makeup and doing a bit of last-minute practicing. I slightly nervously introduced myself, and the girl that had spoken to me on the phone greeted me and thanked me again for agreeing to fill in.
There was one guy in the group and seven girls. The guy was about my age and the girls' ages varied but they were all around the late teens, early twenties and they were all in possession of toned athletic bodies, in keeping with the strenuous demands of their chosen sport/art. We barely had time to all get introduced to each other and for me to get a rough idea of what tempo and rhythms they required before the time came for us to go on.
So we climbed back up the hill and arranged ourselves on the other side, in front of the now quite frighteningly large audience. The speakers stopped blaring, we were announced, and then the show began. I won't go into details about their performance, but suffice to say it was very impressive and the audience loved them. I drummed rather well, but it was nothing in comparison to their display of skill, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching there tightly-clad bodies writhing around the stage, flipping and leaping all over the place.
But all too soon the show was over, and the speakers started up again, again blaring dance music into the night sky. We all climbed back up the hill, tired but exhilarated. Slowly we climbed down the other side of the hill and down to stony moonlit river bank, while excitedly discussing what had just occurred and reveling in our success. They had started packing up their stuff, when one of the girls jokingly said:
"Let's go skinny dipping!"
Time seemed to slow for a moment, and everyone looked at each other. The whole group was teetering on a knife edge, trying to decide what to do. Was it a serious suggestion? Should we really expose our delicate bodies to the elements and plunge into a freezing cold river containing God knows what? Or should we all just laugh it off and continue packing up? All it needed was for one person to make and a decision and the whole group would be swayed.
And then it happened. The guy in the dance group dropped his kit, and with a manic cry whipped off his clothes and ran straight into the river. Everyone started laughing and cheering and followed suit. It was beautiful. Everyone's cares and exhaustion seemed to leave them along with their clothes, and we started splashing and cavorting around in the river with wild, carefree abandon.
I have never witnessed anything, before or since, that could compare to the beauty I saw that night in that river. I had seen sadly few women naked at that stage in my life, but this night made up for it. Everyone was equal and completely relaxed, almost asking each other to admire their bodies. I openly stared at all the beauty that was on display before me. All that toned flesh bouncing around and moistly sparkling in the moonlight was mesmerizing.
After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably no more than a handful of minutes, we all got out the river, put our clothes back on, finished packing up and went our separate ways. I never had the chance to work with them again, and only occasionally saw any of them. But that one moment had a mightily powerful impact on my life.
There was nothing sexual in that moment, just a celebration of each others' beauty, and the naturalness of frolicking in a river wearing nothing but smiles. The profoundness of the experience touched me deeply, and I often find my thoughts wandering back to that stony bank, on that cold, wintry night and thinking how needlessly complicated life is, when such sublime happiness is as simple as taking off your clothes, and jumping in a river.