A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle
Two decades ago I was on a layover in New York. With some time on my hands and a lovely Sunday afternoon on which to spend it, I wandered aimlessly over to Central Park. Late in the day I heard drumming start up on the other side of the park, and curiosity sent me strolling in that direction.
As I walked up I observed about a dozen drummers in a circle with another dozen or so flower-children inside the circle dancing. Dreadlocks. Facial jewelry. Tattoos. And smiles.
I’d never seen anything like it before, having grown up in a small town in the south, then college at a military academy. So I stood a short distance away and took it all in. It’s true the first drummers and dancers were not “my tribe.” But over time, other folks joined both the drummers and the dancers. Regular haircuts. Conventional clothes. People who looked like me. Wearing smiles. Giving smiles. Receiving smiles as they danced and drummed.
Different people floated in, stayed for a while, then floated out and walked away. I couldn’t tell if there were “rules.” I didn’t think so. But being the outsider I didn’t want to spoil the atmosphere in any way so I kept my distance.
What I could tell was that there was living going on in that space. These people were vital. Leaving all unpleasantness outside the circle for a moment or two, and enjoying being human. Together. Since then whenever I’ve happened upon similar gatherings I’ve called them “Life Spaces.” They’re good to see.
Next day at 35,000 feet I described it to my captain. In his wisdom, he had only one simple question: “Did you dance?”
I had not, for the reasons I mentioned above, and others. I’ve regretted that choice for all these years. How many times have I promised myself that should I ever run into another such “Life Space” I would certainly dance?
Tonight I was in London, half a world away from New York, again wandering through another park very much like the one in Manhattan. And there it was. Drumming in the distance. Of course I wandered over that way. And yes, they were there. Hippies. Flower-children. Dreadlocks. Piercings. Tattoos. Smoldering sage bundles. And smiles. Drumming and dancing in a circle. Creating a Life Space.
I stepped right in. Cautiously, politely. No one seemed to mind. Me with my conventional clothing and short hair. And a smile. Remembering 20 years of anticipation. Of hope. Thinking of Manhattan in another age. At another age. With a wise old captain who knew just what to ask. Resolving a regret; correcting a mistake.
It was a good moment. But it was about to get better. Remarkably better. Dramatically better. Unbelievably, serendipitously better.
Here’s how: Part 2…