And I wish to be a badass drummer

One of the things I’m most proud of as a parent is instilling in both of my boys a deep appreciation for music. Or maybe I’m taking credit for something beyond me, but I’m gonna do it anyway. I have always loved music. I grew up listening to the top 40, and watching MTV,  but starting in my adolescence and continuing through my teenage years, music became something that I felt defined me as a person. It was part of my identity. And not only that – it was also a tool for survival in the most confusing and tumultuous years of my life. For that reason, the music I listened to during those years (hello 90’s alternative) will always hold a very special place in my heart. For all my love and appreciation of music, I have never learned how to play an instrument. I’ve tried learning guitar both as a teenager and again in my 20’s, but just never got the hang of it. Or never could stick with it long enough to get the hang of it. It just did not come naturally to me.

Not only do my boys appreciate music, but they’ve both been blessed with the ability to pick up an instrument and learn how to play it. And play it well. One of the greatest joys in my life today is to hear them creating music together. My oldest son plays in and tours with a few different bands, records and mixes his own music, and is committed to making a career out of it. My youngest son plays in the band at school, takes drum lessons, and is a talented marimba player who also dreams of a career in music. Both have been able to travel to different states to play their music in festivals. Both are really very talented and inspire me on a daily basis.

My youngest started taking drum lessons about a year ago and tonight was his first drum recital. I didn’t exactly know what to expect when I walked in to the Nazarene Church this evening where they were holding the recital, but I can tell you that there were a lot more people there than I expected. My husband and I sat down in one of the pews as they finished running through a short rehearsal. What happened next is slightly embarrassing, very strange,  but also makes a ton of sense to me if I really think about it. One of the young girls was running through a quick snippet of her song during the rehearsal and I can hardly even explain what came over me, but I literally started crying uncontrollably. As I started to convulse, my husband looked over at me and could hardly process what was going on. He could see I was hysterical, but he couldn’t tell if I was laughing or crying, he was utterly confused. I was trying so hard to hold it in. He finally registered that I was crying, and bless his heart, he asked if it was a girl power thing and went and got me some tissue out of the men’s room. He’s also seen me cry at the cross-country meets when the girls come across the finish line. I don’t know exactly what this is, and it really only happens with the girls, but I just start overflowing with emotion. It’s just too big to hold in and I start weeping. It’s not exactly tears of joy, but it’s also not just sadness. It’s like a mixture of both. And that’s exactly what happened to me tonight when I heard that girl drumming her little heart out, sounding like a total badass.

It’s like it hits this part of me, to the core, that regrets SO MUCH how I let my fear stop me from doing so many things I didn’t even allow myself to want to do when I was growing up. It’s like I’m witnessing what could have been if I had just not been so afraid. I’m staring my failed potential in the face. At the same time I’m overwhelmingly grateful to be witnessing these young girls reach for their potential with all the courage I never had.

My youngest son has decided he would like to take a break from his drum lessons over the summer and his instructor has really been encouraging him to stick with it. So, I got to thinking while I was sitting there at the recital tonight that maybe I should just take over his spot and learn how to play the drums myself. Look my potential in the face and this time have the courage to walk through the fear of failure. As the recital went on, I kept thinking and thinking about this. There were a handful of adults that were performing as well. One of the older women who’s been taking lessons for two years played ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele and I was in a puddle of tears again. And I don’t even like Adele (at least not her music – of course I love HER, that salty Brit). But she played it so well. And you could just tell that she loved it. Then another kid would come on and play kinda shitty and I would be like, “nah, I shouldn’t spend the money on drum lessons, that’s a ridiculous idea”. And then someone else would come on and would just kill it and I would reconsider. Then someone would go on that wasn’t really good but looked like they were having a really good time and I’d be all “I’m totally gonna do this”. And it was back and forth like that the whole time. And then at the end, when everyone had played and the show was over, I looked over at my husband and said, I’m gonna take over Caleb’s drum lessons. And he knew I was serious.

And goddamn it you guys, I talked to his instructor after the recital and told him that Caleb decided he really wants to take a break from lessons, but here’s a crazy idea….I’ve wanted to learn how to play the drums and would it work for me to take over his time slot on Tuesdays? He looked surprised. Like that was pretty much the last thing in the world he expected me to be saying. Do you have any experience? he asked. Nope. You know how to read music, or play the piano or anything? Nope, not a thing. I know absolutely nothing. Okay, he says, we’ll get you started.

See you Tuesday drum instructor. I’m ready to start. And maybe next year, I’ll be playing in that recital and Caleb will be watching me. Maybe he’ll take note that it’s never too late to learn something new. Maybe he’ll notice that his mom had a little courage.


A surprise message of hope from the Pope

It’s been a while since I posted last. I’ll be honest, I’ve been going through a “weary” phase. I’ve grown tired of waking up every morning, and checking my Facebook to find news of whatever new terrifying atrocity our White House has been responsible for. The attacks on our environment, our healthcare, on immigrants and refugees, on Muslims, among others. I’ve grown tired of calling, writing, and emailing my legislatures to receive back confirmation that my republican legislatures do not actually give a shit about representing me. I kept asking myself every morning, how much worse can it get? And then the next morning finding out and asking myself again.

I took my personal Facebook app off of my phone a couple of months ago, because, honestly, I needed a break. And I’ve been having an internal struggle with myself ever since. On the one hand, I felt it necessary for my own sanity. On the other, I kept feeling like I was just avoiding reality. That it’s my duty as a citizen to stay informed (of actual facts), to inform others, and that I was shirking that responsibility. However, I’m a true believer in self-care. I know that I am not capable of being of service to others if I’m not taking care of myself. So after a much-needed break, I reinstalled my Facebook app with a renewed sense of healthy self-care. I cut back on a lot of the news and political accounts I was following so I could have a better balance between actual social interactions with people I care about and staying informed on news and current events. I don’t have cable, I don’t watch the evening news and I don’t order the newspaper, so Facebook has become my main source of news and events. This makes it very important to me that I only follow reputable news organizations that report facts and, in general, I’m trying real hard to keep shit positive.

I’m also trying real hard to figure out what it is that I can do to make a difference. Because, I can tell you honestly, that contacting my republican legislature in Idaho is not making a damn bit of difference. Enter, this guy…..

Don’t you wish this guy was your Grandpa?!
On Facebook this morning, I watched a great TED talk of Pope Francis titled “Why the only future worth building includes everyone”. I’m not Catholic, I’m not even religious, but I’ve admired Pope Francis since he took the throne at the Vatican and I think he carries a great message for all of us humans. He brings up three messages in his talk:

First, that we are not alone, we are all connected. That “we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone…….everything is connected….even science points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else”.

Second, is the importance of solidarity and hope… “How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion…How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples, and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the ‘culture of waste,’ which doesn’t concern only food and goods, but first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people”. He says, “We have so much to do and we must do it together…Through the darkness of today’s conflicts each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around”

Third, Revolution! “The revolution of Tenderness…..Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other… listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need…..Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you and will ruin the other. Through humility and concrete love….power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.  The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, or great leaders, of big companies. Yes they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us’.”

Now, I could get all judgey and argue that our White House, our President, and it’s supporters could really use this message (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), but I have a feeling that is not the point of what the Pope is saying. What I hear him saying is that we have to practice humility on all fronts. That we need to see all others as equals, as a part of the ‘us’. That includes the President and his supporters. If we keep falling into the “us versus them” trap, we are just further harming ourselves.

I get so upset when I think about how our administration is trying to put policies into place that put white, wealthy Americans and profits of corporations ahead of human decency, and the protection of our planet. In my mind, there is one race. The human race and we are all part of it. Equally. There is no religion, no skin color, no economic status, no nationality that is more important than any other. And there is one planet. There is no planet B! If we destroy this planet, it doesn’t fucking matter who lives where and who’s right or wrong. We’ll all be toast together. So this is where it get’s tricky for me guys. Because it kind of looks like I’m saying my ideas are better than theirs. I’m right and they’re wrong. And isn’t this just another form of us versus them? Or…. is there some transcendent, universal, cosmic right and wrong? And don’t I want to be on the right side of that? This is what I still struggle with. How do I stand against oppression without standing in judgement of the oppressor? Is it enough to just have compassion for the oppressor? For is not the oppressor in some way suffering? Oppression, in my opinion, is a symptom of fear, and fear is a form of suffering. There are many other symptoms of fear and we all have fear in some form or another, not one of us is completely free of it. And it follows that we all have symptoms of fear in some form or another. My fear makes me judgey and self centered. How is that any better than oppressive? Well….

These are answers I don’t have. I’m just asking the questions. And I guess I will keep asking them until I find the answers or until I no longer feel that I need them. In the meantime, I will take what Pope Francis says to heart and I will try to practice more humility, more tenderness, and more solidarity that my candle might burn a little brighter and snuff out a little more of the darkness. I cannot control another’s willingness to practice humility, tenderness, solidarity. Only my own. And for now, that is something I feel I can do to make a difference. If even a small one.