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Finding My Way Back
I got my first drum when I was 5, a Christmas barrel drum given to me by a neighbor. It comes with a small mallet that has a round blue rubber tip. Gray rubber skins, fastened with thin strings to hold the drumheads in place. I pounded on that drumhead day and night until my mother got rid of it, and she has no patience. I was not a happy camper when I found out that my only instrument had been unceremoniously terminated. With sadness and frustration, I pestered my parents to replace it over and over, without success. The fight was a toss-up, so I gave up fighting, but my love of drumming has always been etched in my mind. Over the years, my fascination with drumming has grown exponentially. When I hit puberty, I started working on my parents, hoping to wear them down. My dad insisted that I play a “good” instrument, like the piano or the violin. “Every drummer I meet is nuts.” This is the psychology he uses to destroy my love for drums. I never bothered to ask him how many drummers he actually met to play drums, but I met a lot of people who didn’t play full decks and they never played paradiddle.
Fast forward a few years. I’m 19, in college, and after much procrastinating, I told my parents that I found a good drum teacher, a job, and that I would pay for my lessons and drum kit myself. This time the victory belongs to me.
Over the next 15 years I developed some skills and despite my terrific fear of failure and rejection, I started playing semi-professionally; bar mitzvahs, weddings, rock bands, jam sessions and various freelance gigs. The problem was my lack of discipline and focus. I want instant results. I long for fame and all its trappings. I have zero knowledge of the process. If I can’t “get” something the first time, it’s because of my incompetence, lack of talent, and/or intelligence. I don’t understand the time, energy and effort it takes to master any instrument. When I practice, I ignore all the things that give me difficulty. There are certain elements of my instrument that demand my full attention, but when faced with any challenge, I retreat to that safe, ultimately unrewarding place called Limbo. Eventually the rejection got the better of me and I folded and cashed out.
Over the years, the regrets piled up and I knew deep down that I was living a life that wasn’t fulfilled. I am now on a path full of compromises, leaving no room for dreams. I chose a “means to an end” job. But there is no end. This trip is always the same. I paid my fare and ended up in the same place, with equally predictable stops along the way. The clock is ticking. It’s time to change your life. If I can’t face up to my flaws and limitations and understand the importance of self-awareness as it pertains to all the relationships in my life, then I’m headed to no man’s land. A new and exciting journey lies ahead of me. If I want to change my life. If I want to find meaning in what I do, I have to change myself. No one else can do this for me. And that’s exactly what I did. Like anything in life, it’s not always a day at the beach, but there are important lessons to be learned and I’m learning them. Every aspect of my life is improving. In college, I joined an improv group. I am writing, acting, living and loving every minute of it. I ended up participating in an underground TV production called “Video Madness”. Encouraged by my wife and fellow actors, I continued to formally train with the amazing Tim Phillips. By this time, I had a deep understanding of what it meant to be focused and persistent. In order to achieve any kind of success, I had to work hard and understand that success would not be handed to me on a silver platter. Sam Godwin said, “The harder, the more fortunate.” I’m going to have to work hard to create my own luck. Now, when I get a job, I do it with a sense of purpose. I don’t have a full time job. Every job I’ve been in has been about supporting my dreams. I will not back down or give up. I will not succumb to an unfulfilled life. I have chosen my path and I will stick to it. I have got.
Today, I dedicate myself fully to the performance studio I started in 1988. Two years ago, I started drum lessons again with the amazing Dave Meade. I’m back on track, doing the things I love and need to do to keep my life in balance. I know and understand that life will always present me with challenges, but instead of holding back, I welcome them as opportunities to grow and change. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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