video and photos by and Edward Scheps and Star Woodward
Pleasure is an essential ingredient for a happy life. We need both short term pleasurable events and long term ones. Short term pleasant events are like watching the hummingbirds at your feeder and noticing how they negotiate with the scary wasps who share their space. All you have to do is put up a feeder, fill it with sugar water and remember to take a look when the hungry hummers arrive. Then you have to take a moment to feel the pleasure and joy.
Long term pleasant events take a lot of effort to make them take root in your life. Planting a garden that brings you joy needs study, labor, time and even money but can yield bushel baskets of pleasure over years of work. Even during drought, unexpected frosts, plagues of insects and diseases, if you persevere you will harvest more joy than sorrow. With long term activities you have to learn from and tolerate things sometimes going wrong. A cherished perennial might die, gophers might dig up your prize rose, squash bugs will arrive to destroy your hopes of abundant butternuts. But then, the same year, you'll pick delicious slicing tomatoes and your bed of black-eyed Susans will lift your heart. Music is one of my favorite long term pleasant events.
I play in a band called Kombucha Marimba, which plays Zimbabwean
style music, a rich, melodic, sound based on the musical traditions of mbira, an ancient African instrument sometimes called a thumb piano. This is a picture of my band during our most recent gig at a Vivác Winery, a delightful venue that serves their own, very fine wines. Vivác is our "home court" and we usually get an enthusiastic turnout as we did on the evening this picture was taken. It was hugely gratifying to play with my friends while people danced, sang and cheered.
This band has been performing for twenty years. I am grateful to be part of an ensemble of such fine musicians but at times I've had to radically accept that having only been playing for ten years, I must work hard just to keep up. I make LOTS of mistakes sometimes throwing off my bandmates, even, (rarely, thank God) causing a much dreaded "train wreck." But I keep going with the encouragement of my mates. It gives me SO MUCH joy!
I can remember when I would tremble at the thought of going to band practice and being unable to keep pace with my faster, more competent friends. While I still feel some of that anxiety, it is much rarer these days. Everyone makes mistakes, I tell myself. Just don't let the mistakes steal your focus! And after the gig, I make sure to relish the experience I've just had of something that is not only pleasurable but brings pleasure to others also. No one will remember my mistakes. Most people didn't even noticed them!
Enjoy a short video of the song Baba Mudiki.