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The Rebel’s Regimen

Frans_Floris_-_The_Fall_of_the_Rebellious_Angels_-_WGA7947

The Rebel’s Regimen is no regimen at all.

There was a super moon the other night. I want the phenomenon to be some mysterious force that gets me writing gobs of words. Because it’s easier to assign my will and ambition to external forces (both real and ridiculous) than to draw them from within.

It’s been two months since I quit my 24-year career in the grocery industry. I quit to pursue a dream. I quit for my sanity. I quit because I am deathly weary of trading time for ever-diminishing soul sucking returns. This has left me with a shit-ton of free time.

Too much. The days burn out by like falling stars. Sly and quick, always at the periphery of vision.

And then I panic, because this free time won’t last. And worse, I’ll have nothing to show for it.

It makes me wish I was the kind of writer that suffered from mania. The lows would be brutal, but the highs would be a torrent of words. Words would defeat sleep and hunger and loneliness and depression and all forms of distraction. It would be horrible, but I’d have words.

But I don’t have mania. I suffer from a lack of backbone. I have no process to my days. I’d like to think that perhaps these past two months have been a kind of detox from 24 years of mindless drudgery but my critical side tells me I’m just lazy, that I lack conviction and that I’m most likely a fraud.

It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted. I’m tired of many things. Mostly, myself.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Thom Linehan August 13, 2014, 6:10 am

    The fact that you have made a decision to leave your job for something that you feel shows that you have backbone. I can tell you that for most of my 65 years that life is a process. It may not have been what you wanted but you need to do the “other process” first. Having trouble writing what you want, then pick one thing that keeps coming back in your head, sit down and write out one line Chapters that you want to happen in each Chapter. Something that will keep bringing you back to a certain thought. Then when you are ready, (stop thinking about all the other stories. Write down an idea and put them aside for later), peel the onion one chapter at a time. Don’t edit, just let the shit to flow. Trust me when Becky gets it she’ll help you get rid of crap. Thom

  • Rox August 17, 2014, 9:21 am

    I have a difficult time expressing my thoughts with words, so I apologize in advance.

    I love your writing. It flows like water. I just keep reading and I don’t want to stop.

    Toward the end of my pregnancy with H. I had to find a substitute teacher for my private drumset students. Because I trust my husband ‘s musical judgement, I choose a young drummer who was recommended by Scott. He came to the house every Wednesday and taught my students while I sat uber pregnant on the couch.

    My students were so happy after his lessons. I was so curious what he was telling them. Not that they were not happy after my lessons, but I was more curious about his teaching style.

    I knew this young guy was a great drummer. Of course I never considered my self a great drummer. I often cried after gigs because I thought I made too many mistakes. My husband is the only one who saw this side of me. I desperately wanted to be considered good though, but these demons inside sabotaged almost every playing experience. I would jam with my husband and then spend the hour after analyzing how much I sucked.

    The strange thing is that I could help students make music and enjoy it, but I couldn’t help myself. I knew how to break down their demons, but my self deprecation and capacity for overanalysis completely destroyed my own playing experiences.

    I knew I had psychological issues. As I regained my strength after having my second baby. I wanted to feel alive again. I always have this reaction after going through a physically traumatic event like pregnancy and a C-section.

    If my students are happy after lessons with this young guy then maybe he can help me because I desperately want to feel joy from playing music. Listening to and playing music is a release for some people, but not for me. I love music though. What the hell is my problem.

    So for the first time in my life I decided to take weekly drumset lessons. I did not have the excuse that the lessons were too expensive because my husband was making good money on a contract. I used that excuse at least 20 times. I did grow up in a culture of paying for education because my family was always in a state financial distress. I did not really pay for college because I receive grants, loans and scholarships. I pay for collage now because I have student loan payments, but definitely after the fact. My own private students value lessons enough to pay me weekly for years. I have had one student for 6 years. Why don’t I value this kind of education for myself?

    I did it. I started taking lessons. I told myself that this young guy does not intimidate me because he is young. I always felt intimidated in the presence of my last drum teacher…the late great Billy Higgins, a jazz drumming legend. I learned a lot from Sherman Ferguson too, but I still cried after playing because I was never good enough.

    I warned my new young teacher that I had psychological problems and I was not going to be an easy student. He smiled and said that he completely understood because he had them too.

    He was gentle with me and I still cried a couple times out of frustration, but no matter what I did not miss a lesson. I learned amazing things, but not what I expected.

    Expectations

    I thought I was going to learn specific drumming techniques, and I did, but there was so much more. He gave me creative exercises that I sucked at. I couldn’t create. Damn it. I just want to create like him. He talked about starting with one idea and spinning out a millions ideas from the one idea. I couldn’t do it. I cried. Then I did it, but only once. Cry again. Them I did it for 30 seconds. Cry again.

    I was learning, but it hurt. He gave a rudimental ritual. I had to play it everyday. Don’t think about it, just play through it everyday. Okay. I did it everyday.

    Finally, after a year, this young guy guy gave me a peice of paper entitled “10 RULES FOR STUDENTS AND TEACHERS” from John Cage.

    Google it.

    He focused on rule 8 with me.

    Rule 8 – Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.

    Of course I did not understand. I have to analyze to create. RIGHT?

    My young drum teacher gave me homework. He said that I had to play my next gig without thinking. He said that it was an exercise and I needed to do it. Take this seriously and do it. Be completely in the present and pay attention to everything, but don’t think.

    WTF? It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

    Of course it changed my life. He finally cracked my brain. What ever I played was fine because I was paying full attention to the other musicians and reacting in the moment. I couldn’t be wrong anymore.

    Cry again, but this time from a place of joy. I never had such fun playing music. It took me until the age of 34 to finally get a release from playing?

    I write all of this for you to see into my brain and maybe find something for you. Don’t stop taking lessons.

    I love you.

    • Cab August 17, 2014, 1:25 pm

      I love this, and you, sister. 🙂

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