The Old Man Played His Drum
I was walking in the city, troubled by the terrible state of our world. Passing an alleyway, I thought I heard the sound of a drum beating, and followed that sound to try to find its source.
In a courtyard around two blocks down the cobblestoned alley, I saw an old man sitting under a tree and he indeed had in his lap the resonant drum. A few people sat around him. I stopped and stood behind them and began to listen.
The music was like a heartbeat: hypnotic, as though creating a spell—or perhaps undoing one. At first the heartbeat seemed to belong to the nimble drum; then, to my surprise, for awhile it sounded as if it came from the old man’s chest. When I looked there, he turned his head and stared directly at me for a moment. His eyes pierced my being.
As my attention to it continued, the music became even more intimate, until it seemed to emanate from me. Then, a little while after that, from all three. And finally, it became the beat of all life, and every visible object seemed to be participating!
I closed my eyes to savor this delicious taste of the Pulse of the Universe. I don’t know how long I lingered in that state, but when I opened my eyes again, the shades of twilight were setting in. Immediately, my attention went back to the tree, an apple tree, growing in that courtyard. There was no one under it! The courtyard was lovely in the pink and violet air; lovely and deserted, but for a squirrel who scampered across a branch.
Finally, I turned and walked back down the alley, toward the street that led home. Only then did I realize that the entire weight that had been heavy upon my consciousness was gone! In the darkening air, I felt free, light—and especially, grateful.
At that moment I saw within me once more the image of the old man's face, that moment when he had looked at me. And now, in my mind's eye, came these words, as well: “See how easily your cares are erased! In Reality, they never were, they never will be!”