Over the past couple of months, I have gotten really good at letting go. In terms of my material possessions, everything is potential fodder for the chopping block. I’ve gotten a real sense of what it truly means to live with only what I need, or what adds value to my life. I have become detached from my material possessions. If my house burned down, I would not lament the loss of anything (as long as my family and pets got out okay). I have built the muscle for letting go of my stuff. However, there are a couple of areas of my life in which that muscle still needs to be built.
Last night, at a show with my band, I was asked by a gentleman, presumably the one in charge of the place, if I could turn down my drums. I was insulted. I looked at him like he was crazy and said, “ummm.. okay,” as I motioned as if I was turning a fake volume knob on my acoustic drum kit. Any of you who are drummers knows that it’s fucking impossible to turn down drums. Nonetheless, I gave it a real effort.
I relaxed my playing, and made a conscious effort to play softer. At first, it crushed my soul to do so, the words of Neil Peart echoing in my mind as he explained to an interviewer in one of his films that he hits the drums as hard as he can – a statement to which I can relate. Everything I do in life is heavy-handed, and in some ways lacking in finesse. Be it drumming, drawing, or computing, I bear down and go hard. Nonetheless, I soldiered on trying to quiet my ego while I attempted to turn the situation into a learning experience. Surprisingly, my playing improved. I wasn’t as worn out after each song, and I didn’t lose dexterity in my wrists and fingers. Lesson learned. Problem solved. Right?
At the end of the show, while I was taking down my drums, a man, presumably drunk, came up and asked what our band’s name was. Almost in unison, we all three replied, “Axiom of Maria!” The guy said, “That’s too damn long,” and before he walked away, he said to me, “turn down the drums.” As he meandered off, I flipped him the bird. Fortunately, no one saw. A few drinks in me, and the reply could possibly have been a hearty, “go fuck yourself.” This is never how I treat people. I was pissed. I was so notably agitated (I was tossing things around and dropping cymbals on purpose) that our bass player, Nick, implored me to not take it personally.
Now, I have earned an art degree, been through Air Force Basic Military Training, and Air Force Officer Training School. I have three professional grade educations in taking shit off of people. Why, then, am I standing here, a 41 year old drummer of 30 years, pitching a fit like a scolded five-year-old?
I’ve come to learn to detach myself from my stuff because it is meaningless – tools to be used and nothing more. Drumming, on the other hand, is something I’ve been doing so long it has become a part of my identity. I am passionate about it. I am, in every conceivable way, attached to it. I’m so attached that regardless of the fact that five other people told me how awesome they thought my drumming was (including the bar proprietor who told me to tone it down the first time), all it takes is one seagull, a euphemism I picked up from The Minimalists, to come by and shit on me to ruin my night. Playing a show is supposed to be a happy time, and I let that stupid motherfucker ruin my night. I need to learn how to detach.
I wrote this, not as a how-to on detaching from ones passions, because I honestly don’t know how. I’m hoping that spilling my guts on the page here will help me reveal some nugget of truth that will guide me in this endeavor. I’m self-aware enough to know I have an issue with this, but perhaps not enough to affect any change in that area just yet. If anyone is reading this, I could really use some practical advice. In the mean time, I think I need to meditate on it.