Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'm OK

I came across this post today: 7 Things Happy People Say Every Day. Now, I rarely spend much time reading those kinds of posts; they usually simply re-hash the same oversimplified pop wisdom. But, once in a while, something strikes a chord.
6.  “I’m OK.”
How you respond to life’s little tragedies is what shapes your character.  Crap happens sometimes, you’ve got to deal with it and move on.  Don’t hide from it.  If your dreams are out in the world somewhere and you’re inside hiding, the only new things that will gather in your mind are anxiety and bitterness.  Eventually that anxiety and bitterness will eat away at you and leave nothing behind but an unhappy shell of your former self.
So when the crap hits the fan, as it sometimes will, stop and say it out loud:  “I’m OK.”
And I would add even more. Sometimes, you end up in a bad spot. You're feeling depressed, like you live doesn't have any meaning anymore. And you can look at yourself, and know you're feeling this way, and say "It's okay, it happens. Today I'm feeling bad, and I need to let myself experience this; but tomorrow, after I have lived through this moment, it will be behind me and I will be stronger for having recognized it and lived through it."

Life throws unexpected punches at you. And sometimes you just have to let go and embrace them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Taiko and confidence

I’ve come across this very interesting article on Nerd Fitness: 5 Ways to Immediately Appear More Confident, about how to instantly appear (and be!) more confident. Basically? Stop slouching, slow down, smile, look people in the eye and get out of your head.

Funny how everything in my life seems to be intertwined these days. Taiko has so much to teach us about ourselves.

Stop slouching? That’s a given; we work on posture all the time. Straigten your back, open up your shoulders, relax, make space... all things we struggle with at first, than a little less after a while.

Slow down? This can be taken as meaning slowing down in space as well. "Stretch out", "use space"... all things we painfully learn to do. How to do the maximum you can do for every movement you can make. That also means stopping for a fraction of a second before you hit; that instant of waiting adds tremendous power to your playing. And, don't move when you're not supposed to, either during a piece or at the end, while you wait for the drum sound to finish ringing. That's all about taiking your time.

Smile? Well, that’s an easy one. If you want to engage your audience, you have to look happy about what you’re doing. There are serious pieces; then smiling too much kills the effect. But your face still has to be open and alive. And yes, some happy pieces look awesome when the performers are smiling.

Look people in the eye? That’s harder. I’m shy. Looking people in the eye is always scary. But we work on it; we work on communication too, and that’s in the same line of thought. Sharing a drum during Matsuri, you have to look at the other person who's playing, interact with them, exchange glances and meanings. In other words, establish a contact, communicate.

Get out of your head? Just get out there and kill that drum! Act confident and you’ll feel confident. The hard one… make mistakes with confidence. Nothing holds you back like hesitating. But getting out of your head is easier with taiko, because your body is already engaged in movement. The trick is getting in the right mindset to look powerful. (Yeah, I'm still working on that!)

But taiko, at least here in Montreal, is also a community of people, a family, that welcomes you into their midst, makes you feel safe but also pushes you to grow, to overcome your limits, to be more than you were.