In this very moment, we are the oldest we’ve ever been; this fact remains with every passing second. Do whatever necessary to also get wiser with every tick of the clock. No harm can come to us for doing so.
Learned two valuable lessons this weekend. More precisely, I saw in real-time how two lessons I’ve understood intellectually actually feel to experience. For nearly 30 years, I’ve been playing drums in bands. This weekend, I played my first covers gig as a bassist, playing with a drummer I had never met before that evening. I got to experience how numerous other bass players experienced my drumming for the first time.
Floods of memories of how I tried to impress both the band and the audience with flashy chops or speed, failing to see how self-serving and ego driven I’d been. I thought about all the times I failed to do my job. The times I failed to make the music feel good. The times I failed to listen to what the other musicians, especially the bass players, were doing so I could figure out how to lock everyone together to connect the experience for the band and the audience. The times I broke the cardinal rule of never bringing what’s still in practice into a performance.
Being on the receiving end of a drummer that didn’t listen to lead from behind was frustrating, especially for a green bass player. Experiencing past the bar line, chopped-up, linear fills and metric modulations during extended jams on Marvin Gaye tunes left me feeling like I was drowning and being thrown weights instead of a life preserver. It also made the few people attempting to dance be unable to do so. Although it was an admittedly small crowd, the size of the crowd should never sacrifice the integrity of the performance. For if great care is not demonstrated from the stage, it can never be fully-appreciated by the audience.
The second lesson I learned was how discipline truly equals freedom. My inexperience as a bassist was confining. In a 4-chord song, I could play the root notes of the progression well-enough, but I had no freedom outside of adding occasional 5ths and octaves to enhance the musicality because I was literally locked in a box. I realized the importance of mastering the fretboard, the keys and the chord shapes to truly be able to be expressive. My lack of being a disciplined bassist meant I had no freedom to express the music beyond the bare minimum.
Although sometimes the bare minimum is just the right amount, in most cases, it simply means the job was done effectively. May we all aim to be more than simply effective in whatever work we do!
The lessons learned: 1) If you can put yourself on the receiving end of your own job, you’ll learn how to perform your job better. 2) If you can’t apply freedom to the job you do, you need to get better for your sake and for the sake of those you work with.
We don’t require vacations from work. From time-to-time, we require vacations from how we are currently thinking about our work. If we are feeling overwhelmed, it’s likely not the quantity of work, but rather the quality of our work being hindered by our mental approach. We are hard-wired to work; to put our minds to good use. The world doesn’t benefit from good minds being idle. The best vacation would be a permanent vacation from negative thoughts; thoughts that keep us from being the best versions of ourselves.
It doesn’t matter what chapter we’re on, it’s most important to know what type of story we’re in. Although we can’t control much of what happens, we do get to determine the genre of the story of our lives, because we get to choose how we live through what happens.
Although the use of “will” admittedly adds confidence to a statement, making it sound more likely to occur than using a word like “might,” it’s still reliant on a future action. We can “will” ourselves to death by continually putting off until tomorrow what we failed to accomplish today. When it comes to right action, what happened is better than what hasn’t happened…yet. When we’ve done what we set out to do, we are better for it. The future will always know what we’ve done today, but will never know what we will do tomorrow.
We learn from failing. In order to fail, we have to embrace the idea of bracing for impact. For that’s what affords us the opportunity to get back up and try again. If we choose to spend our time dodging obstacles or avoiding what we fear, we are really choosing to allow our minds and experiences to be stunted. We’ll grow old and gray while our minds remain adolescent and inexperienced. Avoidance is no fountain of youth, it simply creates mountains of ignorance that obstruct an enlightened view.
Growing up with old video game systems provided lessons that newer gaming with expansive and seemingly endless worlds and environments to explore don’t afford. If we wanted to get to Level 2, we had to first beat Level 1. They had a linear, point A to point B, design that forced players to figure out how to succeed past where they were getting stuck before moving forward. Getting stuck in life is no different. Continue anew until we get through the obstacle. There are no cheat codes to circumvent our own stucks.