Three years ago, I walked out of a winning Chicago Cubs game into the electrifyingly energetic post-game Wrigleyville. My ears filled with the sounds of “Go Cubs Go,” people laughing, and street drummers lining the streets, as is customary after a big Chicago event. As fans flooded out of the stadium and rushed to their favorite bars, I looked around to find my friends in the stampede of people.
The yelling of two men drew me away from that goal, and my curiosity got the best of me; I fought through the crowd to see what was going on. I immediately realized the two men were street drummers. It was their drum sticks and trademark bright orange construction buckets (drums) that gave them away. As I eavesdropped on the situation, it became apparent that these were the two men I heard drumming before, on opposite sides of the street. They were now in the middle of it, and things were not looking good. One man had stepped into the other’s area, and neither was going to budge any time soon. The yelling escalated as these men began cursing at each other, both absolutely positive that the other was intruding on his designated area. Things became so heated that I did not even notice my friends had found me in the chaos (I tend to follow it). “Let’s go, this doesn’t look good.” They said as I stood there fascinated. They were probably right, but I was already invested. The yelling got louder and louder, to the point where I was a little afraid and ready to leave.
But suddenly, the air became quiet. The men were closer to each other than they had been the entire fight, but I could not hear a word. They then retreated to their own sides of the street. One picked up his drum, one sat down in his original spot. “Well, looks like he won,” I thought to myself as I turned to go home.
It was then that I heard, to this day, some of the most incredible drumming I have ever experienced. I turned back to realize the men had joined each other on the same side of the street——and what they were creating was art; it was entrancing. When I finally snapped out of my amazement enough to observe with my eyes instead of just my ears, I saw that they were laughing. Laughing. Together. The two men who, seconds earlier, I thought were about to kill each other. I can still see it — and definitely hear it — to this day.
These men, who were now musicians, generated a massive crowd. It was much bigger than the one around the fight, and certainly bigger than the ones they created playing separately. This image sticks in my mind and makes me think about how people really love to get in their own ways. We make everything a competition, and for what? Imagine if instead of using our hands to hold each other back, we used them to pick up our drumsticks and play our music on the same side of the street. Imagine how cool that would sound.