This just happened last week. It's not an easy read. 

Names have been changed to protect... Me.

The place: an ashram in the Bahamas. 

I was all packed and prepared to leave the ashram. Gillian came to my room. How much time till we leave? I asked.

About twenty minutes, she answered smiling.

I felt the crunch of time and knew i had to act fast. Gillian saw the contracted scrunch of my face and darting of eyes as I began to seek from the ethers the first thing that needed doing.

Do you want to meditate on it? She asked. 

No, its time to plot and plan, I said.

That should have been a clue, a red flag for me, but it wasn't the first.

The previous week had been spent at the ashram playing and praying with Darva's band. He's one of those famous kirtan leaders I frequently tour with. We were having a heavenly time and the ashram was having its effects on me. I was desiring to dive deeper into practice as I felt more subtle energies beckoning, a quiet inner wisdom wanting to be heard and heeded. 

We were in sound check a couple of hours before this particular evening's kirtan and we had a special guest. Artie the tabla player from Kay's band was to sit in with us that evening. As things began to come together, mics plugged in and wires strewn, there was chit-chat amongst the musicians. 

We all tour independently and come from different parts of the country so there's always catching up to do and Artie reveals that he's playing the following weekend with Kay there at the ashram. He's arrived a few days early to enjoy the sweetness of the ashram. Kay will arrive in a day or two. 

Now Kay is the the "king of the genre". He's the most famous, most celebrated and acknowledged elder in the world of kirtan. 

As the chit-chat evolved, Artie revealed that Kay has no bassist next weekend at the ashram. My ears perked. 

I quietly and excitedly wondered if this might be my chance to play with Kay, something definitely on my bucket list. There were less than a handful of kirtan wallas (leaders) I hadn't yet played with who I still very much wanted to share the stage. Might this be my grace given opportunity? I quietly put it aside for the moment as we focused on getting the stage prepared for our gig that night.  

 I was already booked to play the next weekend in Naples Florida with Gregg Price, another well known kirtan leader. So to play with Kay would mean cancelling with Gregg and to make it more complex, in that moment I had forgotten that it was on me to provide and run the sound system at Gregg's gig.

We all played Darva's gig that night and it went swimmingly, which is a good word for it. The sound of the music that night was deep and powerful like the ocean we'd been swimming in that day.

    During our hour long set I connected several times with Artie.  Eye to eye, heart felt moments of connection between band mates when the groove has it's own sweet momentum are what we live for. Artie let out a furious lick on his drum with his right hand that lit the muse on fire! A sparkler of a moment and I looked him in the eye. He beamed, knowing I had witnessed and appreciated that flurry of virtuosity. But also i was consciously building rapport with someone I knew had the keys to the "Kingdom". He was my connection to Kay and I wanted to cultivate that relationship. I beamed authentic recognition and love towards him, mixed with ulterior motive. Oh ego! Thou art!

We finished the set, smoozed the admirers and complimented each other's playing. I was in a blissful, grateful state of awe. The heart had won! Beauty was!

Artie left the temple.

I had made up my mind not to ask him if I might fill the role of bassist with him and Kay in the week coming. I had decided that if it was to be, it should happen because he was inspired by the music we shared that night. He should ask me if I was free to join his band that next week.

But as he left the temple I chased him down.

 I said "Against my better judgement I must ask… I could stay at the ashram another week and play with you guys if you'd want me on bass. It would mean a lot to me… no pressure. I just want to make sure you're aware of this possibility." He was gracious and said he would speak to Kay and get back to me by the next morning.

More back story: My girlfriend, Sarah had my sound equipment and was two hours from the gig on Friday with Gregg. If I was to stay another week at the ashram, she'd have to drive the two hours each way to deliver the equipment and he'd probably have to set it up himself. Sarah was willing to do all that for me. What a gal!

Also I hadn't even thought to find out if there would be room for me to stay that extra week at the ashram. 

How much time till we leave… if we leave? I asked Gillian. 

Twenty minutes, she said.

It was her job to escort me out of the ashram on time for me to make my flight… if I was going. The text message came in from Artie. Kay had approved the plan for me to join their band the next weekend! Wow! 

There was so much to do. Gregg needed to be consulted. If i was to cancel with him it would have to be with his blessing.

I called and (darn it!) left Greg a message. So much complexity all of a sudden to manage. I was consciously collecting the red flags and wondering at what point I might pull the plug on this whole operation. I called the airline to see about changing my immanent flight out for one tomorrow to at least give me time to make all this come together. If it didn't come together I'd spend just one more day at the ashram and leave tomorrow.

Sarah was repeatedly calling my cell but I couldn't take her call. I was fielding input from all angles.  I hit "Decline" repeatedly as she persisted. Darva was trying to help me sort all this out. Gillian was waiting to to see if she'd be escorting me to the airport. Just then she received word from the ashram chief that there was no room for me. They were booked up this week. I'd have to find a bed on my own if I stayed even one more night. Changing my flight would make this all more expensive too. 

Gregg called back. He was nice about it though he expressed how jammed his schedule was. I'd be making it tough for him if I pulled out of our arrangement.

In that moment I pulled the plug.

I said,"Gregg,  I'll see you Friday, no worries. Our phone connection was poor but I could hear him still trying to help me work this out and also inform me of the hardship I'd be causing him. I repeated, "I'll be there on Friday and I'm so looking forward to it. Sorry for the disruption!" The phone call was breaking up and I had to repeat the message again. We hung up, 

I turned to Gillian, can we still make my fight?

Probably, she nodded.

We got my bags and we hurried to the boat which would take me, late, to the taxi for the airport. My previously scheduled taxi had given up waiting and a new cabby was hired. I just made my flight. 

Next time I hope I have the skill to listen to that quiet, wise voice that says "Hang back, don't grasp at this. LET it happen if it's meant to happen." I still remember the moment I chose to chase down Artie. It didn't feel egoic, desperate or grasping. It felt clean and rather innocent. Hmmmmm.... The flurry of events and details that had followed was dramatic but not frantic.

     The ego says grasp, but it also has said to me in the past "Don't go for it, you're not worthy." Confused, I thought maybe I was listening to that "not worthy" message by not wanting to go after Artie as he left the venue the night before. But I now see the "hang back, let go and let God" message was my deepest wisdom.

I hope to better discern wisdom's voice in the future and spare everyone around me this kind of disruption, although who knows? Maybe there's a deeper purpose to that whole drama. If it wasn't ego that pushed me to chase Artie, then what? I'll probably never know. I choose to serve, and so it is... I pray. 

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