What’s all this I’ve been hearing about people giving things up? It’s the middle of winter; we’ve already given up long sunny days, eating outdoors and going to the beach, and no doubt the weather is going to get worse before it gets better.
I know the Christmas break may feel like a month of Sundays, but that’s because it takes us a few weeks to get into the swing of it. Within reason, we should be doing more of the comfort indulgences, not less — hot stove, warming soup, cozy duvet, that kind of thing. Now, if you really feel the need to flay yourself with nettles, wear a hairy shirt and give out about the size of your bottom in order to purge a guilty conscience, go right ahead — just make sure you enjoy the experience — and no, there is absolutely no need to tell the rest of us about it. However, personally I think all that cleansing and rejuvenating will keep fine until the spring is well and truly in the air and it all becomes so much easier.
Right now we should be adding things in, not taking them away — a hobby, a pastime; take the opportunity to try out something you’ve been meaning to but haven’t had the chance.
Last year I took up drum lessons. At 50 years of age, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager, but it didn’t happen; life moved on and I knew I’d grow out of it, but I didn’t and circumstances recently presented me with the opportunity. So far I’m only tipping the iceberg of what this journey has in store, but already, after only a little hard work (and no tears, yet), the rewards are immense. It went on for a few weeks — the whole sequence of not making much progress and then the feeling of going backwards, but with a little stamina and perseverance the breakthrough came…a sequence of rhythm, fleeting and (unfortunately) unrepeatable; I have a quick look left and right and then wonder ‘did I do that?’
There have been a few surprises along the way, I didn’t expect that reading music and breath control were part of a drummer’s development, but they are. Reading music is part of the learning process so that you are not a free-style riot at the back of the ensemble and the other, breath control, prevents you from falling off your stool (throne) with a purple face and no dignity. But it’s the mental/physical gymnastics that are most rewarding and fascinating about the whole experience so far; re-training my mind to persuade my muscles to combine actions they are not used to; embedding muscle memory so that my body learns to re-act correctly to a new mental instruction; and, when it works, the joy of a new language, a new form of expression.
Whatever shape yours takes — banjo, piano, lifedrawing or knitting — make it your business to set that time aside for yourself and come up with a new story to tell the spring.
While there is still time to sit on the couch, the documentary/film ’20 Feet from Stardom’ has been very well received by many music enthusiasts, but if you haven’t already seen ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ stop wasting time and watch it now.