With my martial arts studies in the past, I’d been itching for a new challenge. Something to keep those synapses firing and provide some much-needed endorphins. A way to continue to grow and evolve. A challenge of my own seeking, for a change. I’d hate to be stuck in today’s entity for the rest of my life. Sounds like prison.
So this summer, at age fifty, I took up samba drumming. It is, for me, joy-creating in both mind and body.
The first six or eight classes were delightful. I had never been musical, but there I was, participating in the creation of music! And since the majority of class attendees are experienced, it’s real music being played. My body loved it, my pattern-loving brain loved it, and it’s a room filled with what I consider “my people.” Ideal.
Now I’m at—what? Class 12? 14? And I’m getting worse each time! Well, probably not really getting worse (although it's not impossible) but it’s all so much harder! I know why; I remember going through the same thing in karate. First couple belts, I felt like a bad ass. Eventually, the higher the belt, the more aware I became of what I didn’t know. The newness of, “Hey look! I can actually *do* this!” gives way to the realization that while it’s possible to do it, I’m not doing it well. I remember the frustration then, and I’m feeling it today.
I’m no longer new, I’m just new-ish, and correspondingly not very good. This makes sense and yet—it is humbling and painful. I feel shy and embarrassed and frustrated and last night I wanted to quit. I won’t, though. At the core, this is why I’m here. Pushing through this is as important as learning the skill. More important, really. I need that stretch.
The me in me could use work these days and I’ve found an excellent therapist. I like everything about her. The process, the peeling of my personal onion? This part I don’t like so much. I come to each session prepared for internal battle and bite and kick against each revelation. “Jackie, are you a perfectionist?” was a particularly confounding question. I stared blankly in response. A perfectionist? How could I be? There’s nothing about me that’s perfect. My house is a mess, my life is a mess, I’m foundering in my career. Then it hit me. I had been confusing “perfect” with “perfectionist.” In that moment of clarity, I understood that I want to be competent—no, perfect—at everything I do. Correspondingly, my greatest fear is to fail at this perfection. So—yah, it seems that I am.
I will continue my samba drumming classes not just for the pleasure of being a part of something joyful and magical, and not just because I so value the people I'm meeting while doing it. I’ll continue the classes so I can also practice not letting my unattainable drive keep me from living life.
Deep breath and here I go, embracing the process over the product. I may eventually turn out to be a quality drummer. I may not. Either way, I will succeed in being someone who pushes past her fears and insecurities and tries. That’s the person I really want to be (of course if I could be that person and and an excellent drummer, that would be ideal ; )