Last night I had the pleasure of playing drums for These Boots Were Made for Rockin’: An Evening with MFF, Kinky Boots, and Friends at 54 Below. The event was part of our support for Broadway Bares. It was the first time that I’ve played any serious drum set in at least 8 months, and more realistically in several years.
What a mistake.
I couldn’t play like I have in the past. I’m aware of things that weren’t the best. There was a time when I would practice drums for 3-6 hours per day. Ah, the stressful simple pleasures of music school. I remember reaching a distinct crossroads where I thought,
“How is this going to make the world a better place?”
Playing had always been an integral part of who I was, but I couldn’t link it to a bigger purpose. I became a nerd about the research and development of cymbals. I was obsessed with the manufacturing techniques, the sound qualities, and I realized that it was all about me. I wanted to play and make the greatest cymbals. It was all about me.
The world of exercise science has allowed me to learn from and teach some of the most passionate people in the world, and I like to think that reinforcing a desirable squat pattern has a greater impact than Dorian scales.
I’m not nearly as right about that as I have previous thought.
Playing in this show was a profound experience that allowed me to revisit a part of myself that has been playing second fiddle to the serious strength coach side of me. Yes, that pun was intended. At the end of the night, I remember one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite characters, like…ever:
In the wee hours of the night since the show has ended (it’s currently 2:30am on Tuesday,) I’ve been thinking about how we should do more of what we love, but also keep doing what we love.
A little part of me gets sad whenever we use phrases like, “Remember when,” or “Those were the best days of our lives.” Stop that nonsense. More importantly, stop the nonsense of stopping what makes the most sense to you.
Sure, it’s great to go out and discover new hobbies and activities, but that’s different from continuing to do what you already love. The things that we’re the most passionate about become part of who we are; they’re our family, in a sense. Just like you’d protect the best interest of your family members or friends, we must do that for ourselves. If you love something, hold on to it with a steadfast grip and never let it go.
I remember making friends while studying music who had stopped playing their instruments. It may have been in middle school, high school, or when they went to the University of Delaware. If it was 6 months or 6 years ago, there always seemed to be a mix of excitement at the memories, followed by sadness about the absence of music in their live at the moment.
Last night, I was that guy.
As the cobwebs and jitters shook themselves out, I thought, “Why the hell did I stop doing this?” Playing at home, along with tunes in your headphones, is not at all the same. It’s like only going to the batting cages, or the driving range, and never getting on the diamond or the fairway. It’s like standing in the corner, dancing on your own, and asking, “Why can’t you see me?”*
While I approach a strategy that lets me play more, with more people, I ask you to reflect on your own passions, past and present. Which ones do you find the most fulfilling? What brings you the most joy? Those are the activities that we should protect; plan them, schedule them, make them your thing. They make the world a better place by making your world a better place.
What about the activities that you miss? Where did you get a feeling that you haven’t been able to replicate anywhere else? Which activities made you put everything else aside, be present, and have that experience? Those are the activities that we should bring back.
Passionate people are incredible. I love seeing people get fired up about the things that they love, be it bacon, blues, or broadswords. If all we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us**, let’s make the best use of that time. Discover things that you love to do, and do more of them. Protect what you’ve grown to love, and if you’re like me, let’s plan a way to bring them back into your life.*This **This