I just got a job (externship to be exact) at Rikers Island. I’m currently a counselor to adolescents under mental observation (i.e diagnosable disorders and suicide watch). I’m listening to young man deal with incarceration and wanting to kill themselves, I’m hearing lies about family deaths to gain sympathy and just to move to a different cell house. The rest of the week I’m a waiter. I’m treated, more often than not, like a feudal serf and spoken to as if I’m barely worth the patrons time. Not to mention the tips; or lack thereof.
So today when I was sitting in the park taking the only day I have to myself to sit quietly and finish the novel I’m currently reading (China Mieville’s The Scar; review forthcoming) I see two young men sit a few benches to my right carrying several percussion instruments. I say to myself; I just want relative peace and quiet please move to another part of the park.
I’m jaded, I know.
Well they begin playing, and playing quite well. They are unobtrusive and just playing music for themselves and whomever may want to listen. I’m now enjoying the back round beating of the drums as I read about the pirates who are raising a mystical beast from the depths of the sea.
From the corner of my eye I see a young boy, around the age of five or so, saunter over to the drummers. He is just staring at them. One of the musicians (Jo Jo) offers him a small set of bongos and asks him if he would like to play. The child accepts, sits and tentatively begins to drum with the other two. After a round (“song?”) the child points to the big drum that Jo Jo is playing and asks to play that one, Jo Jo says sure and they rearrange the seating and the child is now in-between the two young adults ready to go to work on the big drum. The two men (Jo Jo & Pat) begin to educate the child on beat and rhythm slowly helping the young boy to gain the confidence to play along side them. It gets to the point that I’m intently watching this unfold, placing my nook to the side.
Just as I surrender to the understanding that I must wait and see whether the conjuring the Avanc (wait for my review) is successful or not and what that may mean for Coldwine and co. (again wait for the review) and The Scar is put to the side; the Jo Jo and Pat give the child (Adrian) the opportunity to have a solo. After a few bars (beats?) Jo Jo stops playing and points to to Adrian, who rocks it!!! They finish the round, with one more solo from Adrian and begin to clap (me included) and congratulate Adrian on a job well done.
Day to day I deal with crap. Today I watched two young men welcome a child into their drum circle and treat him as an equal and it made my heart sing.
Thank you Jo Jo and Pat and to Adrian for showing this jaded man that there is hope after all.