Spoilt for choice: Mullumbimby Music Festival, N.S.W., Australia.
Seven venues; seven choices of artist per hour. Blues, jazz, reggae, theatre, all cutting edge.
Curiosity. Intrigue. Deliberation. Which to choose, out of so many?
At one point we dash mid-way from one sumptuous offering to sample the joys of another; then rush back again. Feeling the wind plump our hair as we tear down the pavements of the funky, hippy town that hosts the festival. Happy hearts.
And that’s just the music. The cafes are many and splendid, vying in décor, outlook, organics. Sip a coffee to watch the street parade: ultra-tall ladies in Cinderella finery, flouncing skirts; stilts hidden under blow-up legs.
Trumpets, trombones, whistles, drums. Noise, crowd, voices.
Colour, mayhem. Rejoicing. Clamour in our eyes and ears. We shout and cheer.
It’s getting exhausting, all this fun. All this entertainment and celebration.
Energies lag after a particularly long yet engrossing mix of stand-up/slideshow in a darkened weatherboard hall where a performer recounts his experience in Bangladesh as a bank-finance loan-provider to village women.
Tumble out into the daylight, hit the ground. Again peruse the much-thumbed programme. What’s next? What’s next?
Tiredness and fatigue growing, but we push on.
Then over the road, a dreadlocked couple alights from a van. Nothing unusual around here. We go back to the programme. Thumbing, debating.
The raucous double-decker festival bus, painted to the hilt and groaning with excited passengers, clatters by.
So silent when it has passed.
Then through the air comes the relaxing chimes of a piano. Pealing, appealing. Where’s that sound coming from? The car stereo of a nearby vehicle?
My goodness. Over the road in tiny grassy park, out of the van, a piano has magically appeared!
Seated at the piano, before a stand of majestic trees, is the piano player. Lean muscled, sarong-wearing. His hands dance over the ivory keys of the rustic instrument rescued from a rubbish dump in New Zealand.
Like sleep-walkers we are drawn across the road to the park. Like a sleeper, I am lured to the piano. My weary body drops to the ground.
The grass is thick, lush, soft and very very green.
It’s the sort of grass for melting into. The sort of grass that will cradle you while you stretch out on your back and drink in the pealing of original classical music, a heart-beat away.
Trilling, pounding, soft then loud. Piano forte. Rest, release.
Not even any ants.
It’s easy to be mindful when the senses are fully and naturally engaged: feel the grass, hear the music. It’s easy to be present when the brain is assuaged by novelty, fascination. Here on the grass, listening to the music and resting the body, being present is effortless.
Present to the richness of life.
My day really needed a restful interlude like this. Come to think of it, life needs a whole lot more restful interludes.
Stuff the choices, the what’s-next-on-the-program dilemma. Grass, sky, trees, piano, music. Satisfaction is mine.
copyright Shakti Burke
AJ Hickling is The Piano Busker, a street-funded independent media producer.
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