My mother died in 2006. It was a shock, a relief and another limbo all rolled into one. I was busy staying in my skin around the new year, when I got a phone call out of the blue, asking me to drum for the dance teacher at her home for an individual client. I went warily, and drummed several times. Not long after that, the dance teacher started up her local dance class again and two of my old drumming mates and I were back in the saddle again. I went back knowing who I'd be dealing with, what the obstructions would be, and how it could turn into Drumming Nowhereland for me again.
I decided to give myself the option of NOT drumming and quitting at any time if it got as bad as it had in the past. I also didn't want to commute to a big city and chase classes and teachers in futility; so if this was what I had locally, what could I do with it to make myself happier and progress? First, I decided to smile while I was playing just a little. I had read that turning up the corners of your mouth actually changes your auric energy, so I tried it. It felt totally foreign and fake at first, and I had to get over feeling like I was some kind of grinning idiot, but it actually helped me focus on myself internally while I was drumming. Second, I decided to stop trying to change the obstructive personalities of certain people in the community and being hurt by the fact they didn't care about me or seem the least bit interested or capable in meeting my needs as a drummer and person. Third, I decided to stop believing I knew better than anyone I was drumming with so that I didn't have to defend my supposed superiority and be a target.
While these ideas didn't make drumming easy, and it felt like I was swallowing all kinds of crap at first, what I had decided to do began to pay off. Since I was no longer trying to control people, the people trying to control me were meeting no resistance. It got easier and easier to not engage with whatever was not useful to me and tune them out without being rude or impolite. I also stopped trying to please other people because my efforts in the past to do so had never been respected.
All these inner changes made my drumming life less frustrating, and I felt grateful for the opportunity to drum, but I was still going nowhere fast and, as often happens when there is finally the kind of change that is needed, things started to get worse until the whole community scene changed. Since I had stopped pretending to myself I was respected, the getting worse part and the collapse of what had been wasn't devastating for me. I had seen the ugly truth before it became super obvious, so the collapse worked in my favor.
I stuck to my goal: to do all I could to facilitate local drumming so I had people to drum with. Finally the dance teacher, who had decided to stop teaching, brought in a congalese master to teach drumming and dancing without her; and that was the beginning of the end of Drumming Nowhere.
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