I’ve been a percussionist since I was 8 years old. For those who are unfamiliar with the term ... I’m a drummer.
A man named Levi Rock handed me a pair of Ludwig 3S laminated drumsticks. Although I didn’t know it at the time, the trajectory of my life was set. He then said, “Hey Bill ... strap a drum on this kid and take him outside and teach him to play Paradiddles, Triplets and Shave and a Hair Cut.” Bill Buck, still a dearest friend to this day, nodded and I followed him into “the cage,” the equipment room for the Kankakee Challengers Drum & Bugle Corps.
It was love at first grip as I held those sticks in hand and looked at that red, silver, and blue sparkle drum strapped to my right shoulder and resting on my left thigh. It felt natural ... as if I were born to wear it.
Time passed, but every step of my life was guided or influenced by this pair of wooden sticks. My junior high and high school years were all dominated by concert band, jazz band, marching band, and drum & bugle corps at the American Legion.
The sticks then took me to VanderCook College of Music for a degree in music education. I won a state NBTA Rudimental Drumming Solo Championship and two months later placed third in the nation. I performed and toured for a season with the National/World Champion Chicago Cavaliers. Music never became my vocation but led, guided, and influenced my professional and personal life in profoundly positive ways.
Those sticks took me on a five-week tour as a drummer for Country Star Ray Price. All along the way, I couldn’t have ever imagined where my sticks would take me next.
Through the years, I’ve performed off and on in my church with our praise and worship team, but life, health and professional travel brought me to the point where performing ended.
A few weeks ago, Pastor Matt Smith, arranged an opportunity for me to take those wooden sticks and make music one more time, and maybe for the last time. I was so rusty ... but the band pulled me along and allowed me the privilege to sit at those drums and play. I’m grateful.
What’s the point of this column? One point is to emphasize the importance of music education, which I believe is tragically undervalued within our educational system. More importantly, the point is to highlight the impact of doing what you love and finding your passion. The joy of taking those two pieces of wood into my hands and making a joyful noise, for me, is priceless. It has enriched my life in indescribable ways.
You just never know the profound impact moments in time can have. Lightning may strike at any time. You must always be open to new experiences, as you never know where they will lead.
For my dad, I’m guessing it might be the first time someone handed him a baseball. For my daughter, a Pastor, the first time she was handed a Bible. For my wife, it’s gardening. Drumsticks, a baseball, a Bible, a few flowers magically arranged to create beauty ... all unexpected but profound moments that led to a lifelong passion.
We can’t choose those moments that lead to our passions. They just happen. We don’t plan them and usually are not even aware that they’ve happened at all until years later. A parent can’t choose for a child ... and I don’t think we choose at all. Maybe the passion chooses us ... seizing our emotions, creating a life-long love.
I think the best we can do is give ourselves and our children a wide variety of experiences until they find what they love. And unfortunately, for some, maybe they never find that passion. It’s never too late. I know people who in the latter years of their life were struck by something they learned that they loved.
Be open. Let your mind and heart explore the possibilities.
Did you have that moment in your life? If not, are you open to having it?
Gary W. Moore is a freelance columnist, speaker, and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com