“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend” – Robertson Davies
My perception has been a little wonky just lately.
By ‘wonky’ I mean that I’ve been struggling to know the difference between the truth and what is merely my monkey mind being allowed to have a major rave-up inside my brain.
Unbeknown to probably a lot of people, the past few months I’ve been feeling as though I’m not good enough.
I’m Not. Good. Enough.
If one of my friends ever said those exact words to me about themselves, I’d pretend to bitch slap them about the face and neck, look them straight in the eye and tell them how utterly ridiculous they were being. I’d say with conviction that they are MORE than enough and they don’t need to change a damn thing.
Yet when it came to myself and my own emotions, I’ve not been that – kind? Positive? I don’t even know exactly the right word for it. But for months I had this awful feeling plaguing me every moment of every day. At one point it got so bad I seriously wondered if I should stop playing music altogether. Which is of course, utterly ridiculous. Everyone knows that Music IS me. Music is my happy place. Without it, I can’t function. We’ve been together now for the best part of 30 years….and for better or worse, music and I are in this thing together.
Thankfully I managed to ride through the storm, come out the other side and see things much more clearly, and in that moment of clarity I realised that I had in fact been acting like a total cotton-headed-ninny-muggins.
It took a series of random events for me to reach this conclusion – but I am very grateful that I saw the error of my ways, which began on my last trip to the UK.
I was visiting my parents and by chance came across my old Sony Handycam (remember those?) and a collection of mini8 video tapes. They were all filled with me doing various musical antics…all of which made me cringe.
Thank God YouTube hadn’t been invented yet.
A mantra that I’ve been saying to myself over and over again is:
‘I used to be a better musician back then, my playing is no-where near as good as it was. I had so much confidence. I wasn’t afraid of anything!’
The Universe heard me, called bullshit and presented me with the this little collection of tapes.
It was quite the eye opener.
I sat curled up on the sofa, Handycam in hand, playing tape after tape of me trying to play various musical phrases that I now do with ease. I wasn’t as picky with my playing back then as I am now, so there were a lot of things I missed which nowadays would’ve gotten past me.
But what struck me even more than my playing was my persona.
Basically, I didn’t have one.
I had completely forgotten how introverted and self conscious I used to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very introverted…and I’m totally ok with that. But the difference between then and now is that I function as an active member of society every day. I do everything I want or need to do and not much scares me. But at 19 my life outside of music absolutely sucked. BIG time. There were SO many things I simply *couldn’t* do. I mumbled unintelligible words into incoherence sentences and lacked any kind of confidence what-so-ever. I was like THE most awkward human being you’d ever seen and it oozed from my every pore. And the worst thing about my life back then was having a non-stop battle with pretty extreme anxiety, preventing me from doing so much.
How could I possibly think that 19-year-old Katie was happier than 37-year-old Katie?? I really like me, I love hanging out with me. My life is awesome, and I would never ever want to go back to how I was at 19. Nu-uh. No way.
I can’t believe I got it so wrong. My perception was waaaayyy off.
That was reality check No.1. Reality check No.2 happened more recently.
I’ve been working a lot on my Instagram profile. My main goal was to add more creative content in the form of videos. I set aside some time each day to watch other people’s posts, writing down ideas for what I should and shouldn’t include in mine.
I mostly watched drum videos and for those of you that don’t know – there are a ba-zillion videos on Instagram of people (predominantly dudes) doing the most super fancy and technically challenging fills / beats / rudiments / solos in an attempt to impress who ever happens to be watching. This really doesn’t appeal to me. At all. Listening to someone do fancy shit in an attempt to make themselves look like what we would call back home ‘the dog’s bollocks’ just makes me feel yucky.
Don’t get me wrong, within the context of a musical piece – where it’s appropriate and beautifully executed, it’s wonderful. But to throw up a camera somewhere and do random stuff that’s more about technical brilliance than being sincere and true to the artform just doesn’t float my boat. I actually think it’s kind of lame.
But as lame as it may or may not be, it does get a ton of views…and likes. People for what ever reason seem to really dig that stuff.
And so, with all that being said – rather than me saying to myself and the rest of the world – f*ck that, I’m going to be ME and do ma own thing…in my fragile and insecure state I attempted to change, for the absolute WORST reason possible.
To fit in.
To quote a much loved American-ism, what a total dumb-ass.
If you’ve heard me play drums, I’m not what you’d call a ‘drummy’ drummer. I don’t throw in a lot of technical fills. I play what I feel is right for the musical situation I’m in and in fact spend more time figuring out what I’m *not* going to play. I gravitate towards emotive players who lay down beautifully executed grooves in a rock solid fashion. People like Phil Gould, who was a huge inspiration to me growing up and I’m so proud to call my friend.
My reality check No.2 happened when Phil and I were chatting a little while back.
I was telling him with much enthusiasm about all these new books I’d bought which would help me with various skills such as limb independence, solo-ing and lots of other pretty useless technical crap I’d convinced myself I needed to learn.
He listened quietly as he always does. When I’d finished my lengthy list he softly asked:
‘…and, what do you need to learn all those skills for exactly?’.
‘To make me a better drummer’ I responded, convinced he’d be suitably impressed – which of course, he rightly wasn’t.
He went on to ask me ‘Do you want to be that type of player? Wouldn’t you prefer to perfect the technique you already have and execute grooves you already know with more accuracy? How is focussing on things like limb independence and solo-ing going to help you when recording your own songs or accompanying other people?’.
‘Well, I guess it isn’t’ I sheepishly replied.
He then asked me a question that changed everything.
‘Why did you want to play drums in the first place?’.
There it is. The truth. Reality. Bringing me back to centre. I taught myself how to play drums because I’d written a bunch of tunes and needed a drummer for recording. From then on I got hooked playing with other people and wanted to learn as much as I could. It wasn’t about ME. None of it was. It was always 100% about THE MUSIC. And the reason my brain is telling me that I was happier playing music when I was younger is because I didn’t spend my time creating videos for the internet because…there was no internet! I spent time practising, writing, learning, creating, being present. The only time someone got to hear my skills was at a jam session or playing in a band with others – and we all enjoyed creating something really cool *together*. There was no ego, no oooo! This video made X amount of likes or shares….we did it because we genuinely loved it.
And THAT element of music is what I’d forgotten. My love for the art and putting that art before myself. I’ve allowed my entire being to get overrun with self-deprecating thoughts from my apparently fragile ego.
Like I said. Cotton-headed-ninny-muggins.
Thank you Universe for showing me the way and helping me see the light. Through my crappy Handycam videos as an awkward teenager and a kind friend who always knows the right thing to say at the right time, I finally returned back to centre.
Ahhhhh. That’s better ❤