Last Sunday I had a pretty good day. I got up early, hit a 7 am spin class, then visited my goat milking partner at her house, chanted with her and her buddhist boyfriend, had breakfast, got to talk, milked goats, and then made it to drumming class.
Things seemed tranquil until my congolese master was confusing several times and I started to get sarcastic and drift into ill tempered snottiness. Once again I had to resist the impulse to get mad, get even and lash out at him and the rest of the class. I began to think it’s time I drum with a different congolese teacher, a younger one, and play with people who really want to drum and can do it at a higher skill level than the group I’m currently in.
This thought took a little of the sting out of my pique over the state of the class and the waiting around while people ask a bunch of questions about what the rhythm means, etc, and waste time demonstrating their lack of focus. I deliberately shifted my impatience and disgust into observing more actively. There had to be something I could get out of how things were no matter how much part of me was dismissing everyone and everything.
This worked well. I stopped feeling held back and pissed off. I moved my body behind my drum rack, being aware the movement might irritate other people trying to concentrate, and letting go of all rancor. I began to absorb the previously seeming incomprehensible rhythm sequence he’d been doing better. I was able to see that our master is still very much the master, but he doesn’t always remember the exact way he breaks things up for us. I even thought about how I could work the group’s sluggishness to my advantage. After all, I used the years they were floundering with the most basic stuff to train my left hand to lead and be solid.
I remembered when the class was barely attended and so much worse, and this brought me some gratitude. I also was able to realize how much less I have to do to keep the class going because others are doing almost all the things I used to have to do by myself. And when the dancers came I drummed well, and was glad to be able to be that.