Jive Junction You're not wrong Walter, you're just an asshole. -The Dude


You make time for what is important to you

When I was younger (and how I hate the fact that I can start a story this way) I possessed an extraordinary ability to focus on one thing and do it for hours at a time. Dirty jokes aside, I recall once lying on a couch in my apartment and reading for eight hours straight. I also spent three years doing nothing but going to work, sleeping, and playing Quakeworld Capture The Flag online (which seems like a waste of time but it turns out the money I didn't spend while videogaming for eight hours a day was roughly equivalent to half a down payment on a house). I also saw roughly one hundred movies in the theater every year. And sometimes I noodled around on my guitar or electric piano for hours at a time, or went on long bike rides.

My point is not to talk about my vaguely wasted twenties.

I have two points which will indirectly bring us to lindy hop, so bear with me. One is that as a single man I had free time to spare. The other is that I made time for what seemed important to me at the time; videogaming, reading, seeing movies, et cetera. I could have been improving my programming skills, or traveling the world, or making a billion dollars thinking up an Internet business. I had occasional thoughts about getting better at guitar, forming a band, but it never seemed important enough to actually get off my ass and do it.

Eventually I got married to the most amazing woman in the world (she didn't even make me type that) and we had kids, and these days I find that I have about one twentieth the free time that I used to have. As a result many things are now off the table -- traveling the world, reading a book cover to cover in one go, impulsively taking off for a movie or dinner out. I need to choose what I do with my free time. What do I do these days?

I practice drumming. As much as I can, whenever I can squeeze it in, however much my wrists will let me, even sometimes when I feel my wife's slight disapproval at having to manage two rambunctious kids yet again. Half an hour here, an hour or so on weekend days, a gig here and there. I still play computer games, I still read, I still watch movies on Netflix, but I think about drumming All The Time.

In 1998 I discovered dancing. For four years I thought about lindy hop All The Time. I still played computer games (a lot more than I do now) but I went out dancing regularly. I spent thousands of dollars flying to events and dancing. It was an experience that I will never forget.

There is a strong sense of deja vu in 2012.

I hope to get as good at drumming as I am at Lindy Hop. In other words, comfortable enough that I don't care what other people think, good enough that some people want to dance with me, creative enough that I can stop thinking about technique and just feel it. Good enough that maybe conceivably I can fly places and play music with other people. I'm making time for drumming because it is that important to me.

Is there something you wished you could have always done? I feel sad when people talk excitedly about Dancing With The Stars. Why are you watching dancing when you could be doing it? What do you do with your free time? Do you have ambitions? Goals? Do you have friends or family you never see?

I look at drummers like Josh Collazo or Paul Lines or Hal Smith (and, outside of the jazz realm, Jojo Mayer and Johnny Rabb and an army of other astonishing drummers on youtube) and think about the unbelievable amount of time they spent practicing and gigging and getting to the level where they are today, and I mildly regret starting so late, because I will never have the amount of time to practice that they probably did.

You are never wasting your life if you are doing things you need or want to be doing. You make time for what is important to you. If you aren't doing something that you claim to want to be doing, it's not important to you, by definition. Or you have literally zero free time, in which case I'm sorry, and I hope you catch a break soon. Maybe you should marry an amazing person who gives you that free time.

PS the band I'm in, the Fox Hills Five (we have youtube videos! search for them!) is playing at the as-close-to-New-Orleans-as-you-can-get Hollywood bar Sassafras monthly. Our next gig is November 16th. Come by and have a drink and say hi.

Posted by Julius

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  1. Julius,

    Don’t even mildly regret starting drumming at a “later” age. I claim we all can have a number of satisfying “lives” during our time in our individual mortal coils.

    e.g. I started swing dancing when I was 59, and once I became sort of proficient, I have had a stone ball dancing, and got to the point where I didn’t want or need to get any better, because I felt like I was dancing well enough to suit myself, and more important, felt like I was dancing in a semi-unselfconscious way, while trying to get “inside” the music to express how I felt about the music, and, of course, please my partners. Drumming is harder than dancing, but I never dreamed I could have started at 59 and have what I think was a hellova good run at Lindy Hop.

    Allen Hall

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