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an experiment

Posted by Erik on March 13, 2009

I’m service assistant this Sunday at my UU church; the sermon topic is about “following your own drumbeat” and the drumming group is performing. I was tasked with finding an appropriate children’s story… and wound up writing one instead, which I will be telling on Sunday (with my drum, obviously!).

This is my first foray into writing for storytelling, so I’m curious to get any feedback; I think it came out OK, but it’s always hard to judge your own work. I hope to record it at some point as well, but for now all I have is the text.

I offer this story freely to any storytellers who would like to learn and tell it; all other rights are reserved.

How First Spirit Drummed Up the World

Back before the beginning of beginnings, where there was nothing but nothing, First Spirit became aware of itself, and so started to be. And shortly after becoming aware of itself, First Spirit became aware of the absence of anything else… and after the new had worn off that realization, pretty soon First Spirit invented being bored.

Now First Spirit didn’t like being bored too much; it wasn’t interesting. So First Spirit started humming to herself (she’d just invented being female), but since she hadn’t invented rhythm yet, the tune was kind of… well, boring. [spoken monotonously] It just sort of lumped along, kind of like this. And First Spirit thought to herself, “Self, what does this tune need to be interesting?” And after a spell of thinking, and then some pondering and some more thinking, First Spirit sat and tapped her fingers on her leg, and all of a sudden hit on the idea of rhythm!

Now this idea had promise! First Spirit played around with rhythms for a few thousand years until she found some she liked, and then tried her tune again with some of them until she found a perfect fit – and suddenly First Spirit had a song to sing. So, First Spirit sang her song for a while, and slowly the nothing all around began to be less like nothing and got a little bit closer to being something.

And then First Spirit thought, “This making rhythm on my legs is all well and good, but it’s awful quiet. Wish I could make it louder somehow.” So First Spirit tried out making rhythms on her arms, but that wasn’t much different than using her legs. She tried making rhythms on her head, but that just hurt. Then she tried making rhythms on her body, and that was great! It was loud, because bodies aren’t all the way solid like arms and legs, and she discovered that by changing the shape of her hands, she could make different sounds. So she went on along with that for quite a spell.

After a while, though, First Spirit got kind of sore. So she thought about her body not being all the way solid, and then she thought about making something else that she could hit that wasn’t all the way solid, and before too awful long she tried scooping up a big old handful of the not-quite-something not-quite-nothing that was all around, and before you know it, First Spirit had made herself a drum! And she started in on hitting that drum every which way she could – she slapped it, and she kicked it, and she hit it with her head (just once!), and eventually she figured out the best way to play.

Now, while First Spirit was playing with her drum, she hadn’t noticed that the not-quite-nothing all around was getting more and more like to being something. Finally, though, First Spirit lifted up her head and looked around and saw that all around her was almost something – so she decided to help it become all the way something.

She made big low booms on the drum with the heel of her hand, and the Earth started to take shape under her feet; she played it solid, and then she played it round. She slid her hands across the head of the drum, and made air and wind and clouds. She fluttered her fingers on the head and drummed up rain, then went on and drummed up a huge rainstorm, until she got so excited she smacked that drum with all her might and made thunder!

Finally, First Spirit got tired of being wet, and went back to drumming up the rest of everything, rocks and trees and all. And last of all, she hit on the idea of making animals and people and other spirits, but for that she had to add singing and whistling.

And then, when everything was all made, she invented the idea of going to sleep.

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5 Responses to “an experiment”

  1. Pax said

    What a fabulous story!!!

    Peace,
    Pax

  2. executivepagan said

    Thanks! I’m pretty pleased with how it came out.

  3. mahud said

    I’m am really impressed with your mythological creation narrative. You clearly has an understanding of, I guess, more traditional form’s of creative/cosmogonic narrative.

    For me I found it very reminiscent of Native American Creation Myths, although I tend to stick to more ancient myth and texts, and my knowledge of (relatively modern) traditional mythology is somewhat lacking.

    I like the playfulness and the humorous elements. “pretty soon First Spirit invented being bored.” Ha Ha! Great stuff. Usually creation through a creator divinity in Hinduism (I’m thinking of the Upanishadic text of Atman, who upon realising he was along was initially filled with fear). I like the theme of creation of the world through rhythm and song (a theme that pops up in many myths throughout the world), and, of course, at the end the creation of sleep! Brilliant stuff. Wonderful storytelling for both adults and children.

    Bottom line. I really enjoyed it :D

  4. executivepagan said

    Um, wow – thanks for the kind words! Yesah, it felt somewhat Native American/aboriginal to me as well, which makes sense with the drumming.

    It went over very well in the service – the kids laughed in all the right places, and I saw that even several of the adults were leaning into it. I’m thinking of rewriting it just a bit to publish as a picture book – it would need about 300 more words, and the I’d need to formalize the language just a bit into “written English” (I actually told the story to myself then wrote down what I was saying, rather than composing at the keyboard, to try and capture the “spoken English” feel).

  5. kategladstone said

    Great! (And, right at the end, unexpectedly Biblical … )

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