I had a neighbor when I was a kid who was just like all the other men in the neighborhood. Unassuming, always at work, and quietly going through the motions.
Looking back, those men were probably all desperate for something more. But they had families to take care of.
This particular neighbor had a secret – he could make music. One summer day (it must have been summer because their front door was open), I was playing in front of my house and heard the wild sounds of a boogie woogie tune getting banged out on a piano that normally functioned as a piece of furniture.
This guy was wailing – nothing unassuming or quiet about it all.
After the initial daze of my first introduction to live music (and the revelation that grown men can harbor such hidden talents) wore off, two thoughts popped in my mind.
Why doesn’t he do that all the time?
I wanna do that!
Since that day, music was always a big part of my life. I never became notably good, but that didn’t matter until later.
So much time was filled with pointless jamming with grade school buddies, figuring out songs taped from the radio and scribbling lyrics in the margins of schoolbooks.
There didn’t need to be a reason or goal or any kind of approval. It was always fun, regardless of how it sounded.
But just like those men from the neighborhood, I always thought I’d grow out of it. So I did.
Over the years, music became a dusty guitar in the corner.
And I became a depressed hater. Something had to give.
I heard somewhere you could find your passion by thinking about what you enjoyed doing as a child.
And there was music, patiently waiting for me to ask it for help.
And every time I asked I brought along a truckload of unreasonable expectations. Every attempt was doomed to fail before it started.
It needed to sound good. But I hadn’t practiced in ages – never mind actually taking a lesson. More fuel for the guilt fire.
Someone else needs to like it. WTF? You can’t even play for fun and you’re already planning the tour?
Gear! You need the right guitar, mic, pedals, pa. All that shit and more. Right.
Somewhere along the line I got the idea to list all the stuff that was keeping music out of my life and turn it into a “To Not Do List”.
The list is surprisingly short.
- No instruments.
- No expectations.
- No judgement.
No instruments left singing, whistling, humming, tapping, clapping and snapping fingers as the only options.
But who are we fooling? I wasn’t about to start singing and clapping along without harshly judging myself.
There was really only one choice.