I’ll never march to the beat of another’s drum.
I just can’t.
Because when I tried, I missed every beat, stepped out of line, tripped, fell—with scraped knees and flushed cheeks—I would hurriedly pick myself back up, only to be cast back down again.
So, I eventually learned, I only had the beat of my own drum to march to.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears; however measured or far away.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
I used up all my courage when I first broke free from the crowd. I needed strength, as I was attached through various cords and ropes, though I forcefully severed them one by one.
I soon found, I wasn’t weak at all. It was only the crowds that had strengthened my weaknesses.
I had held onto others, so my legs had not grown strong and I had sought shelter amongst others foolishly thinking I was protected.
When, in fact, I was crushed.
I had sought comfort in an insecure security and I naively believed that safety was hidden in numbers.
I hadn’t realized that in the crowd were the ones holding me down, keeping me in its clutches, as it was afraid that it would be the one to weaken if I broke free.
The crowd wanted everyone the same, no differences, so it could float through life almost unnoticed, although, gathering up anything and everything that stepped in its way.
It was only when I got caught in a web that was laid down to trap me that I finally struggled and lay down and cried.
No more. I could take no more.
My soul was sucked, my dreams were not mine and days and nights repeated themselves.
I discovered in that darkened night, soul ripped open, tangled in a heap of mess and destruction, that this was not my beat and neither would I follow it.
It wasn’t easy to unhook the claws. They were sharpened and fierce and they ripped at parts of my flesh. But those wounds soon healed.
Their words hissed at me with furious venom. They battled me almost into submission.
But I could hear the calling of my own drum, it wasn’t far, it had always been near me but it was getting closer.
It drowned out the noise of the crowd and I paid attention to the distance.
I was afraid of shadows, as my eyes had never fully been exposed to the light.
Though slowly and so securely I adjusted. Bit by bit my eyes opened and I discovered things I’d never have seen caught up in that cluster.
I spread out my wings, I could fly, I could dance, sing and scream at the top of my lungs. And not one eyelash would flicker. No disapproving looks, no shakes of the head, nothing.
And if there was anything calling me out, I would never have noticed. Nor would I have cared.
I was now on my own path, with only the noise of my loudly beating drum to follow.
There was no clearing in front of me to tentatively tread, no shelter from the wind, no cover from the harsh elements.
But I embraced it all.
It weathered, me taught, me, opened me up and nourished every part of me.
The rhythm matched my step and the beat pulsated through me.
I am on my own journey, one with no stepping back.
And I have the company of my own drumbeat to march to.
Author: Alex Sandra Myles
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: Matt Brown/Flickr