The story of Ahummbay's origins goes back in time to a planet where there were endless wars. On this planet lived a species called humans and they just couldn't seem to get along. No matter what one human did, there was always another who didn't like it. And so it continued for many millennia. That is, until the time that it got so bad it looked like this planet might not be able to survive all the violence that existed there.
As the wars and hatreds got worse, there grew up among the violent ones, humans with heart, humans who refused to fight, humans who chose to love. It was hard for these heart people because they often felt alone, but through one thing and another they began to find each other. Even though they spoke different languages, they seemed to understand an unspoken language that they all shared...the language of love.
On a day when it appeared there was no hope anywhere, when it looked like this planet would explode in violence and hatred, each of these heart humans closed their eyes, opened their mouths and began to sing. As their voices rose on the winds, the sound encircled the globe and drowned out all the wars, quarrels and fights. And those who were still practicing violence stopped in their tracks to listen to this unearthly sound. As they listened, they closed their eyes, opened their mouths and began to join the song, one by one by one all around the planet. As they sang, the planet itself could finally sing its song of love.
And everything changed. Not in an instant, not even in a year, a decade, a century or a millennium. But, slowly, slowly, slowly things changed. At first no one noticed, but in time the humans looked down to see that their bodies had become hearts, their ears had grown very large, the tops of their heads shone on the darkest nights, and their mouths were always open in song. This was catching. So much so that even their pets caught it. Even their trees caught it.
Finally the day came when
no one even remembered what this planet had been like before.
In fact, they called it by a new name, Ahummbay. And instead of
humans, they called themselves ahummbats. And their pets, which
were part dog and part snail, became known as ahummbogs. But the
most beautiful change of all was that singing and humming were
their only ways to communicate. And no one even remembered the
word "war" or the word "violence." All they
knew was love.
This entry from my
journal tells the story of how this story came to be...
THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2003
When "reality" goes off the deep end, it is time to create a new reality. Some might call it fantasy; I call it dreaming truth into being. That's what the kids and I have been doing in our third and fourth grade art classes of late.
The assignment was to create your own planet with its own creatures (the kids like to call them aliens), their own language, pets, natural environment and culture. We started by sketching the shape of the planet in pencil, and then answering a list of questions about them. After sketching the inhabitants, we each chose a piece of construction paper in whatever color we liked. We drew our planets on this paper, cut them out and painted them with tempera paints. Next, we drew and colored the creatures (aliens), their pets and any life forms that grew there. We pasted our cut-out planets and all our other creations onto a larger piece of colored construction paper. Then it was time to write a story about our planet, either describing it or telling of something that had happened there.
We've been working on this project for weeks now, weeks that in the "real" world have been full of such horrors that creating a new reality has been profoundly healing, at least for me. My planet is called Ahummbay. Its name comes from the fact that the only way its inhabitants--ahummbats--communicate is through humming or singing. Their pets are ahummbogs, which are part snail and part dog. Even the ahummbogs sing instead of merely barking. The trees are musical notes with hearts at their base and polka-dot leaves growing out of their note-like branches. Ahummbats have large ears so they can listen to one another, and their mouths are always open to sing. A light bulb shines from the top of their heads. Their bodies are hearts because ahummbats are pure love. No wars or violence ever happen on the planet Ahummbay. How could you fight and sing at the same time?
Well, that was what happened in our art classes today. At the beginning of the day, the children were full of talk of war. "Did you hear the war's over? They killed Saddam Hussein, so it's all over now." "My Dad is hypnotized by the TV. I try to talk to him and he just shushes me." "There have been wars in my country for seventy years. I'm Palestinian."
And then Susan the teacher asked me if I knew the words to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I said I did and she asked me to sing it. After I'd sung it to her, she asked if I'd use her microphone/headgear and sing it to the class while they worked on their planets. I did and then Susan said, "Why don't you sing them some of the songs from your CD project." I did and then I taught them the songs I'd sung. I taught them "Circle Round For Freedom", "O Beautiful Gaia" , and "The River Is Flowing." Then they sang me a song they know from the fourth grade chorus, "A Candle in the Dark."
And do you know what
happened? Even the "bad boys" stopped being bad and
started singing. Even the youngster who has so much trouble concentrating
was totally with us. Even the girls stopped whispering in each
other's ears and sang. It was like Ahummbay had come to earth.
We did this in two classes--the third and fourth grades--and our
hearts were full of love. And there was no more talk of war because
we forgot the word even existed. I think my ears grew at least
an inch today.
©2003 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.