ways of seeing.

There is something about it. Isn’t there something about everything though?

When you start performing magic, right at the very start, not only are you nervous but you are looking at your hands. This somewhat defeats the purpose. The interaction in magic is not with your hands, but with those to whom you present. But the eyes of the beginner are on the method, not on the interaction. This is the price you pay for a lack of experience and practice. You haven’t paid your dues, so you’re subject to have your sight on the method.

Once you’ve put in the work and practice, you’re able to free your eyes. This moment is magic on its own. You’re not just caught up in your own actions but are able to engage in the interactions. This elevates the entire experience.

A few months ago in tabla class, I started to look around on a more regular basis. I find myself no longer fixated on my hands. I don’t need to double check my every move. This is an awesome feeling on its own. However, it turns super awesome when you are playing with someone and you are able to make eye contact with your partner(s). It is something I enjoy while watching a performance, seeing the musicians see each other. To recognise the presence of your partner, to say, “I am here with you and in sync,” is a beautiful thing. It is a moment I would not have imagined myself to be in. There is both a subtle and elaborate joy in this.

It makes me wonder. Who would I be if I didn’t try? I am not quite there yet, but would I not be robbing myself of all these moments? What does it mean to continually defer desire to a time unknown? It is so easy to fall into that trap. It saddens me that I did not start sooner. I let desire linger for so long, the reasons for which aren’t even clear to me. What was I protecting? Who knows?

Another moment struck me a few weeks ago. I was practicing material from class and of a sudden I felt like playing something. I wanted to play a feeling. bas, baithe yuheen, ek khayaal aaya. So I played it. It was simple, nothing complex. Maybe 10 or 15 seconds long. Just a few simple bols (notes). It felt good, so I recorded it. Yes, my timing is still off. As I said, I am not quite there yet. It will be yet a whiles. But there was something about it. I grew up listening to Jagjit Singh’s ghazals and somewhere in there would be a tabla solo. I remember, time and again, being awed by this instrument. Here I was hearing myself play it, and it felt like just maybe I could have the potential to play something like those solos one day. Maybe. What is so cool is that a line was drawn. From what had felt impossible to a potential of possibility. A line that can only be drawn through trying. Through a practice that expands your being of your mind beyond its own thoughts. There is both a subtle and elaborate joy in this.

So here I am, at the edge of something that seemed – not too long ago – unimaginable. I am flirting with yet another way of seeing.