Should I Send My 5 Year Old Back To School Finding My Way Back

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Finding My Way Back

When I was 5 years old, I got my first drum, the tom that my neighbor gave me for Christmas. It came with a small wooden mallet that had a round, blue, rubber tip. A gray rubber skin tied with a thin rope held the drum in place. I beat that drum day and night until my mother, who was not gifted with patience at first, got rid of it. I was not happy to find that my only tool had been unceremoniously terminated. Stricken with grief and frustration, I forced my parents to replace him, again and again, but it was not to be. This battle would be impossible to win, so I gave up the fight, but my love for drumming was forever imprinted on my brain. Over the years my fascination with drumming has grown exponentially. As I entered my teenage years, I began to work on my parents in hopes of kidnapping them. My father insisted that I play a “nice” instrument like the piano or the violin. “Every drummer I’ve ever met was crazy.”, was the psychology he used to try to derail my love affair with drums. I’ve never bothered to ask him how many drummers he’s actually met who played the drums, but I’ve met more than a few people who didn’t play with a full deck who got there without ever playing a paradiddle.

Flash forward a few years. I’m 19, in college, and after putting it off forever, I tell my parents I’ve found a good drum teacher, a job, and I’m going to pay for my lessons and drum kit. This time the victory is mine.

Over the next 15 years I developed some skills and, despite my acute fear of failure and rejection, began playing semi-professionally; bar-mitzvahs, weddings, rock bands, jam sessions and a variety of freelance gigs. The problem was that I lacked discipline and focus. I wanted immediate results. I longed for fame and all its trappings. I had zero understanding of the process. If I couldn’t “master” something the first time, it was because I was incompetent, lacked talent and/or intelligence. I didn’t understand the time, energy and effort it took to master any instrument. When I practiced, I neglected all the things that gave me trouble. There were specific elements of my tool that required my undivided attention, but when faced with any challenge, I retreated to a safe and ultimately thankless place called limbo. Finally, the rejection got the better of me and I folded my hand and cashed.

Over the years, regret grew and I knew in my heart that I was living an unfulfilled life. Now I was walking a path full of compromises with no room for dreams. I opted for jobs that were “means and ends”. But it was not the end. The path was always the same. I paid the fare and ended up at the same place with the same predictable stops along the way. The clock was ticking. It’s time to change your life. I was headed for no man’s land unless I could face my flaws and limitations and learn the importance of self-awareness that applies to all relationships in my life. A new and exciting journey lay ahead of me. If I wanted my life to change. If I wanted to find meaning in the things I was doing, I had to change myself. No one could do it for me. And that’s exactly what I did. Like everything in life, it wasn’t always a day at the beach, but there were important lessons to be learned and I was learning them. Every aspect of my life improved. In college, I became a member of an improv group. I wrote and played and lived and loved every minute of it. I ended up participating in an underground TV production called “Video Madness”. With encouragement from my wife and fellow actors, I continued my formal training with the amazing Tim Phillips. At that time, I firmly understood what it means to focus and persevere. To achieve any kind of success I would have to work hard and understand that success would not be handed to me on a silver platter. Sam Goldwyn said: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” I will have to work hard to have some luck of my own. When I took a job now, I did it with a sense of purpose. No full time job for me. Every job I took was in support of my dreams. I wasn’t going to back down or give up. I wasn’t going to succumb to an unfulfilled life. I had chosen my path and I was going to stick to it. And I have

Today I devote myself fully to my acting studio, which I founded in 1988. Two years ago I started studying drums again with the remarkable Dave Meade. I’m back on track doing the things I love and need to do to keep balance in my life. I know and understand that life will always present me with challenges, but rather than shy away from them, I welcome them as opportunities for growth and change. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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