One bright summer day a neighborhood had a picnic. There were hamburgers and salads and beer. The neighbors sat in lawn chairs around the grill and gossiped, joked, and recounted their travel adventures.
A couple of blocks away, a woman paused at her doorstep. She had been studying a guitar course for a couple of years. Now she looked down at her tote bag and guitar case. She thought, “If you take that guitar, you better be prepared to play it. Are you ready?”
She considered this. “No,” she declared out loud, seizing the handle, “but I’m playing it anyway.”
Hours later, after dessert, someone noticed her guitar case. “Diane, will you play something for us?” She took her guitar out, picked her way through, and soon her neighbors were singing along. They played and sang until the sun went down.
A year passed, and it was time for the picnic again. It was a hot day, much too hot to cook outside, even too hot to sit outside. Everyone was indoors. The woman with the guitar case followed a neighbor into the clubhouse, where everyone sat around tables, gossiping, joking, and recounting their travel adventures. “Not this time,” she thought, as she propped her guitar case in a corner.
Everyone enjoyed their hamburgers and salads and beer and dessert, then it was time to clean up. They collected the trash, put away the food, rearranged the tables and chairs, and started to say goodbye.
Then someone said, “Diane, did you bring your guitar?” She stood frozen as a dozen neighbors pulled up chairs and sat down around her. “Quick,” she thought, her heart pounding, “play something, anything.”
So she played and sang as best she could, and the neighbors again all joined in. They took out their phones and looked up the lyrics, and called out requests, and made music until the sun went down.
As they said good night, one of the men took her aside. “Hey, Diane, I’m Rick. I play keyboards. Would you like to come over one day and play some tunes?”
The very next week they did. And the week after, and the week after that. The weeks went by. The drum machine got a workout. Soon they were joined by a neighbor who played horn. Then a bass player. And a man and a woman who wanted to sing. They practiced a year and a half, then looked at each other and said, “We have a band. We should have a name.” So the guitar player said, “How about, ‘Uncommon Ground’?” Everyone nodded.
The neighborhood had a holiday party before Christmas. There was a catered dinner, decorations, warm, cozy lighting, and a band: Uncommon Ground. They played holiday songs, then a set of rock and pop. The singers called for Rick’s wife to come forward, and the guitar player led the band in “All of Me,” as a delighted Rick and his wife danced along.
Almost every week the little band would practice, until they could hardly stand the drum machine any more. But Rick taught at a school where there were also music classes. There was a drummer, Chet. And a saxophone player. They came to practice with the little band. Now, with eight people, their band was not so little. They shut off the drum machine. Uncommon Ground was rocking!
At the next holiday party, dozens of neighbors looked up over their coffee and desserts and Christmas tree centerpieces, as Chet prepared to count off the first song. He asked quietly, “Everybody ready?”
The guitar player smiled at her bandmates and nodded. “Not entirely,” she thought, as she grabbed the first chord, “but I’m playing anyway.”