After I'd bought into Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community, but before I'd moved to Nanaimo, Susana e-mailed to tell me about the Thursday morning singing group to which she belongs -- Everybody Sings.
It operates on the principles of Ubuntu Choirs. That is, it is assumed that every human being knows how to sing (even if he/she doesn't believe he/she can). Members of the group are not given sheet music, lyrics, or anything else. Group members learn songs just as children in so called primitive cultures learn them -- by having the songs modelled by more experienced singers and by repetition.
The music comes from all over the world -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Israel, Kenya, and on and on. Participation is very informal. Group members can clap, wave their arms, tap their feet or even dance if they feel so moved.
Well, I finally got to experience this for myself when I participated in Everybody Sings last Thursday morning. It was really neat, or at least it was once I got past the mild panic I experienced during the first song. The two group leaders started out by asking us to sing in harmony. My first reaction was, "That's unfair. I don't even know this song, much less how to sing it in harmony."
But, after that first song, I ordered my mind to get out of the way. I chose to relax into the singing, allowing it to take me wherever it took me. Once I did that, it turned into a wonderful experience.
It seems to me that the way in which Everybody Sings operates is illustrative of the way in which Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community operates. Do we know how to "do" cohousing? If you want to get technical, we don't. It's not as if you can go out and get a diploma in cohousing or anything like that.
But, in embarking on a cohousing project, we in many ways are returning to a way of life that was common to humanity for centuries, if not millenia. So I believe the skills are contained in the collective unconscious of humankind.
Yet we in North America are out of practice. So it is extremely unlikely that we will get the harmony just right on our first rehearsal. But for all that, and without having been able to put it into words at the time, I passionately wanted to step into the cohousing circle and join in the cohousing song.
Am I ever glad I did.