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Finding My Way Back
When I was 5 years old I received my first drum, a tom tom given to me by a neighbor for Christmas. It came with a small wooden mallet that had a round, blue, rubber tip. A gray rubber skin, tied with a thin string, held the drum skin in place. I played that drum night and day until my mother, who had no patience to begin with, undid it. I was not a happy camper when I discovered that my only instrument had been unceremoniously dismissed. Attacked by sadness and frustration, I pestered my parents to replace him, again and again, but they didn’t. There was no winning this battle, so I quit the fight, but my love for drums was imprinted on my brain forever. Over the years my fascination with drums has grown exponentially. As I entered my teens I began to work on my parents in hopes of wearing them down. My father insisted that I play a “pretty” instrument like the piano or the violin. “Every drummer I ever met was crazy,” was the psychology he used to try and derail my love affair with drums. I’ve never bothered to ask how many drummers I’ve actually met who have been drumming, but I’ve known more than a few people who didn’t play with a full deck who got there without ever playing a paradiddle.
Fast forward a few years. I’m 19 years old, in college, and after putting it off forever, I tell my parents that I found a good drum teacher, a job, and that I’m going to pay for my lessons and the drums on my own. This time the victory is mine.
During the following 15 years I developed some skills and despite my acute fear of failure and rejection I started to play semi-professionally; bar-mitzvahs, weddings, rock bands, jam sessions and a variety of solo gigs. The problem was that he lacked discipline and focus. I wanted instant results. He longed for fame and all its trappings. I didn’t understand the process. If I couldn’t “master” something the first time it was because I was incapable, lacking in talent and/or intelligence. I didn’t understand the time, energy and effort it took to master any instrument. When I practiced I neglected all the things that presented me with difficulties. There were specific elements of my instrument that required my full attention, but in the face of any challenge I retreated to that safe and ultimately unrewarding place called limbo. Finally the rejection got the better of me and I folded my hand and pulled it out.
Over the years the regrets increased and I knew in my heart that I was living an unfulfilled life. Now I was traveling on a road full of commitments with no room for dreams. I opted for jobs that were “a means to an end.” But there was no end. The journey was always the same. I paid my fare and ended up in the same place with the same predictable stops along the way. The clock was ticking. It was time for a life change. I was going to no man’s land if I didn’t manage to face my flaws and limitations and learn the importance of self-awareness when it comes to all the relationships in my life. A new and exciting journey lay ahead of me. If I wanted my life to change. If I wanted to find meaning in the things I was doing, I had to change. No one could do it for me. And that’s exactly what I did. Like everything in life, it wasn’t always a day at the beach but there were important lessons to be learned and I was learning. Every aspect of my life was improving. In college I was part of an improv group. I was writing and acting and living and loving every minute. I eventually participated in an underground television production called “Video Madness.” After encouragement from my wife and fellow actors, I went on to formally train with the amazing Tim Phillips. At that moment I firmly understood what it meant to focus and persevere. To achieve any success I would have to work hard and understand that success would not be handed to me on a silver platter. Sam Goldwyn said: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” I was going to have to work hard to make myself a little lucky. Now, when I took a job I did it with a sense of purpose. No full time jobs for me. Every job I’ve done has been to support my dreams. I wasn’t going to back down or give up. I was not going to succumb to an unsatisfied life. I had chosen my path and I was going to follow it. And I have
Today I am fully immersed in my acting studio which I started in 1988. Two years ago I started studying drums again with the remarkable Dave Meade. I’m back to doing the things I love and need to do to keep balance in my life. I know and understand that life is always going to present me with challenges, but instead of shrinking, I embrace them as opportunities for growth and change. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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