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Finding My Way Back
When I was 5 years old I received my first drum, a tom tom that was given to me by my neighbor for Christmas. It came with a small wooden stick with a round, blue, rubber tip. A gray, rubbery skin, held together by a thin string, keeps the drum skin in place. I played on the drum night and day until my mother, who was not blessed with patience to begin with, threw it away. I was not happy to hear that only one of my weapons had been dishonorably terminated. Saddened and frustrated, I forced my parents to change, over and over again but it didn’t happen. There was no winning this fight so I gave up the fight, but my love of drumming was imprinted in my brain forever. Over the years my interest in playing the drums grew. When I was young I started working for my parents hoping to tire them out. My father insisted that I play a “good” instrument like the piano or the violin. “Every drummer I met was crazy.”, was the psychology he used to try to break my love for drums. I’ve never bothered to ask him how many drummers he’s met who go to drumming, but I’ve met quite a few people who don’t play with a full desk who showed up without playing a paradiddle.
Flash forward a few years. I’m 19 years old, in college, and when I leave it forever, I tell my parents that I’ve found a good drum teacher, a job and I’ll pay for my own tuition and drum kit. This time victory is mine.
Over the next 15 years I developed some skills and despite my great fear of failure and rejection I started playing semi-professionally; bar-mitzvahs, weddings, rock bands, jam sessions and different types of auto shows. The problem was that I lacked discipline and thought. I wanted immediate results. I longed for fame and all its trappings. I didn’t understand the process. If I couldn’t “get it right” at something the first time it was because I didn’t have the skills, I lacked the skills, and/or the intelligence. I didn’t understand the time, energy and effort that goes into mastering any instrument. When I was doing this game, I ignored all the things that were causing me problems. There were other aspects of my instrument that required my full attention, but after each problem I returned to a safe and unproductive place called limbo. Finally the rejection wore off and I folded my hand and took out the money.
For years the sadness was mounting and I knew in my heart that I was living an unfulfilled life. Now I was walking on a road that was full of tolerance and no room for dreams. I chose jobs that were “finding and solving”. But there was no end. The trip was always the same. I paid for my trip and ended up at the same stop I predicted on the way. Time was ticking. It was a life-changing moment. I would only go to someone else’s world if I failed to face my mistakes and failures and learn the importance of self-awareness as it affects all relationships in my life. A new and exciting journey was ahead of me. If I wanted my life to change. If I wanted to find meaning in the things I did I had to change myself. No one could do it for me. And that’s what I did. Like everything in life it wasn’t a day at the beach but there were lessons to be learned and I was learning. All areas of my life were going well. In college I was part of the class. I was writing and acting and living and loving every minute of it. Later I participated in an underground television show called “Video Madness”. Encouraged by my wife and fellow actors I went on to train with the amazing Tim Phillips. At this time, I understood the meaning of concentration and perseverance. To achieve any success I have to work hard and understand that success will not be handed to me on a silver platter. Sam Goldwyn said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” I had to work hard to get my own chance. Now when I started work I did it with a purpose. No regular jobs for me. Every job I did was in support of my dreams. I would not back down or give up. I didn’t want to give up on an unfulfilled life. I chose my path and I was going to keep going. And I did.
Today I’m participating in my acting class that I started in 1988. Two years ago I also started taking drum lessons with the amazing Dave Meade. I’m back to doing the things I love and need to do to stay grounded in my life. I know and understand that life always throws me challenges but instead of letting them go I embrace them as opportunities to grow and change. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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