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by Steve "Father Time" Katz
(submitted from: Disabled Drummers Association)

It’s POSSIBLE, but not quite as easy as one might think. We’re all aware of the old adage: Anything worth doing is certainly worth doing well. The rewards are extremely satisfying, uplifting and definitely motivating. It’s a mind/spirit thing. Fascinating that the more you do, the more you’ll wanna do, and with steadily increasing results I might add, the better! NOW THAT’S GROWTH! At face value we can clearly see the logic of getting things done and moving on to the next task. Granted. But when conditions like constant pain, frustration, confusion, disappointment, complacency and hopeless despair are ruling out over other elements such as joy, pleasure, contentment, love and the stability of one’s basic inner-peace, how can we be expected to accomplish anything much less explaining why we can’t get some things done. (Sometimes describing our obstacles in brutal detail), we often go through great hardship on a daily moment-to-moment basis giving up on most things even before applying ourselves to the challenge set before us. From the most mundane of tasks to mastering the intricacies of Rocket Science, we find it’s easier to just dismiss it rather than trying. It’s much safer to say “NO, I can’t do that and spare ourselves that heavy emotional distress of failure. Who wants to live with that? NOT ME, That’s for sure! Of course you’ll never know if you’re not willing to try. You just might surprise yourself and everyone else in the world around you, instead of safely denying yourself the golden opportunity. Remember your Star Wars? Yoda (famed Master Jedi Instructor) said to young Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not, there is no try. Funny little green guy had a point! Faith in one’s own strength of determination can be a very powerful motivator. “Use the force Luke!

We Humans have a propensity for concealing our shortcomings, avoiding projects that would reveal such weaknesses. Failure is sidestepped at all costs. In the spirit of making sure we always look good, we favor entering into projects our minds and bodies indicate we can master without error. Feeling pretty safe now, are we? One of those adjectives I used back there in the first paragraph was complacency. Growing comfy on one rung of life’s ladder never reaching either forward or backward, just hangin’ on in that one secure place. From weeks, months, even years, to an entire lifetime, some people never climb out of it. IT’S GOOD AND COMFY TO FEEL SAFE ISN’T IT? Comfort is important, YES, but in this instance I feel comfort can sometimes become a detriment to a certain degree. Why read a book you’ve already read through, or sit through a movie you’ve already seen? Why are we wearing our favorite jeans, listening to our favorite music or relying on what we already know in our drumming as opposed to learning something fresh and new? COMFORT. Remember in my last “Tech-Tip, I said comfort increases productivity? Well in this case productivity means having a good day, feeling good about yourself, but still there’s no facing any new challenges with the ever-present possibility of failure looming over head, playing it safe and comfy. When they told me my vehicle would need to be fitted with adaptive equipment or get used to the idea of giving up on driving for the rest of my life, or that I was left to live with a compromised airway, an ostomy and a right-leg limp for the rest of my life, that’s when the realization finally hit me that the concept of RE-LEARNING may need to be implemented. Know though, things can get better once we RE-LEARN and ADAPT to the new way. To carve out this new life-path, you must first forget about how things used to be and treat this as day one, move forward from this point on.

Since I’ve taken over the office of the presidency of your DDA, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to speak with many of you at length about how much each of you can do and what you tend to shy away from. Fear, the constant predator here will win out every time. This monster’s teeth are razor-sharp and his power is immense but if ignored, he will retreat to the depths of your consciousness never again to rear its fierce head. Developing mental toughness by increasing your focus and your determination, these will adequately arm you to do battle with this prey AND WIN thus becoming the strong-minded person you desire to be without wrestling with your fear. I guess you could say, putting your mental energy into another more positive area instead of concentrating on your limitations. I’ve heard myself say to more than one of you that it’s important to test yourself from time to time as a gauge for measuring your growth. Learning something you didn’t know before or achieving something which until this point you were avoiding, may lead to you experiencing a bit of growth which will amazingly elevate your intellect up to the next level. Mind, spirit and body have to work together here to succeed in this. Think of these things as muscles. Get to the gym, strengthen them up or they’ll atrophy away leaving you weak and helpless. Who wants to live with that?

Your DDA brothers and sisters are all of various ages, cultural backgrounds, disabilities, drumming levels of proficiency and styles. Some of you are no longer able to play or at the very least, NOT as you once played. Some of you are playing often, some with bands some not, some are traveling away doing the touring and recording, some are happy just to be able to sit down at their kits, (if they even have a drumset, some don’t), and just hold the sticks, even tap out a few of their favorite etched-in-stone rhythms they’ve already learned, but each and every one of you still have great and powerful DESIRE, something you can’t take away no matter how much the mind and body resist the concept of approaching something new. YES adversity is a constant here, but when complacency sets in, well then it’s pretty much over. Throw in the towel, ring the bell, bring in the Fat Lady.

First thing’s first. Get your head together! OK; maybe skydiving is outa the question, but lets talk about getting into your drumming. There’s the obvious physical therapy of it, there’s the discipline of memory, but most importantly it’s climbing over the fear of “I CAN’T DO THAT. HEY! Just think of all the people in the galaxy, on this planet alone who are being deprived of the magic you harbor deep inside you. Don’t be so selfish! You got something very unique to offer and I WANNA HEAR IT RIGHT NOW! No matter if it’s a tap here-n-there around your kit in the garage or you’ve been practicing to Rush records for years, (sorry Neil), maybe you don’t even have drums and wanna begin on a practice pad. Maybe you’re out on a tour of the Orient with your band and won’t be reading this till next October. There’s a message being kept buried deep within you and drumming will not only bring this to the surface but once developed, these skills will soon blossom into magic, your magic that we’re all waiting to hear. So, what’s it gonna be?

One DDA member I spoke to on the phone recently, (Thanx Bill), said something so matter-of-factly that it didn’t truly register till after our conversation and then BAM it hit me like a ton-o-bricks! When he was asked, “What style did you play? his answer was, “I don’t have one. See, he was outa commission for a very long time, many years in fact and drumming had just been re-integrated back into his new life. STYLE, I’ve learned is as unique as we all are. For him, it’s important to play simply to express himself. No style in particular, nor is it relevant or required. Just to get back to playing is enough for him. He will accomplish something by bringing his drumming back into his life. It’s not about battling then conquering his fear of failing, rather that he just wants to play. It’s as simple as that. His mind isn’t quantizing measures or configuring a wide variety of rhythms to fit into East Indian time signatures, his heart has taken over and is telling him JUST PLAY. Many of us who think of drumming as an ART FORM can easily relate to this.

Maybe that’s all it takes, just one tiny little message from the heart that breaks through the pain and the defeatist point-of-view to get things woke up and rolling down the right path. Proficiency doesn’t matter, style doesn’t matter, the quality of your gear doesn’t matter, the only thing that really matters is that you search for and engage the switch that turns you ON and then to act on your drumming DESIRE. Don’t think you have to be the next Carl Palmer or anyone like that, be yourself and do what you can with what you have to work with. You’re not being judged scrutinized or put under any kind of microscope, JUST PLAY. Accomplish something. Have FUN!

Lastly, FUN is a side-benefit of the work you’ll put in just getting your mind, body and spirit into this thing. Pay attention to your heart when the call comes in and take it. Develop your mental strength, avoid giving into the comfort and safety of complacency and try to get things going again. Go slowly and think more positively. Focus on your abilities NOT your limitations. Challenge yourself from time to time always striving towards raising the bar. The joy from satisfaction derived through achieving a desired goal is THEE most gratifying emotion a Human Being can experience. It’s the ultimate thrill! Attached to that like a high-flying kite out there at the end of a zillion miles of string, there’s ACCOMPLISHMENT. GO GET IT!