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Parentheticals

A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.

The Journey to Handpan-Land

Posted by: julia

I’ve been super quiet on social media of all kinds lately (because reasons, but that’s not the point of this post). I’ve just hit what really feels like a big life crossroads, although I’m still mired in the middle of it so it’s hard to say what will stick in the long term and what won’t. But even so I just had to write this story down for posterity. What story you ask? Why, the story of my journey into handpan-land. What’s a handpan? You ask? And well you might. A handpan is a musical instrument that is vaguely related to the steel pan, but is convex instead of concave and is played with the hands (actually, the fingers) rather than with mallets or hammers. It is made of hammered steel and looks a lot like a metal turtle shell or UFO. Go look up “handpan” on YouTube and you’ll see a zillion videos, of which my current favorite of the moment is this one (but believe me there are 10,000 more). They’ve only been around since the year 2000 and there aren’t very many of them in the world (though more and more people are learning how to make them and there is a very passionate community of players.

(Let me digress for a moment and say that I am by no means anywhere close to a trained musician or even a drummer, although many years ago I did play darbukka in the UCSB Middle East Ensemble and I still have several hand drums which I enjoy occasionally fooling around with. These days I spend my creative time as a writer and artist, not so much as a musician: the only instruments regularly in my life have been my kids’ piano, violin and cello.)

Anyway, my recent journey into handpan-land (say that three times fast...it will make you giggle!) was like falling into a whirlpool full of fizzy water, one that lifted me up rather than sucking me down. (Anyone remember the fizzy lifting drink scene from the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie? Yeah, soaring and gleeful like that, but without the threatening fan at the top waiting to chop me up into pieces...for now at least!) But it’s also been a crazy ride on the serendipity train. Everything that has happened to me so far on this journey has felt like an incredible lesson in both manifestation, and what my Jewish friends and family call “b’shert” (which is a Yiddish phrase that means “meant to be” or “destiny”).


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