My first living drum was horse. The first time making a sacred tool, at least for me, is nerve-wracking. I was nervous, afraid I'd screw it up, afraid I would look stupid, afraid I would destroy the skin even before I got started. And what if it sounded horrible because I had done something wrong???
Fear. Self-doubt. Self-hatred. Shame. Insecurity. These are the elements I imbued into my drum, and still, somehow I knew this process was a truly sacred act for me.
Once it was complete I felt proud, I loved it! It was beautiful. The color, the markings, all the things that made my drum unique and special, I loved them, and I hadn't screwed it up.
I oiled my drum religiously, rubbed it in and massaged it with care. I hung it up proudly in my office with it's handmade (by me) drum beater. I had done it, I made a living skin drum!
It didn't take long and my drum began to crack and split and separate. My heart was broken at how it looked but it still sounded, well, ok. So I played it. Soon I made another living drum, purchased a few man-made drums and horse became an ornament hanging on the wall in my office.
One day when I was particularly down in spirit I picked up horse and played it. The resonance of this broken, cracked, split and very unsightly drum blew my heart open. It was so beautiful. Holding it as the too-thin strands of skin dig into my hand, horse says "being broken is uncomfortable, it hurts. It damages your soul and your outlook on life. It makes you forget who you really are, this being broken".
Now when I am broken, horse says "play me". "Play me Robin and I will show you the sacred in your brokenness, the strength in your scars, the beauty in your presence and the divine resonance that is yours alone. Play me and I will show you who you really are, what your soul looks like, what it sounds like, play me and I will help you remember" So now, when I am broken, I play and I remember. Today, I play and I remember.