The Inaudible Sound of the Invisible Sun. I sure learned a lot from that guy.
“That . . . guy?” you ask.
Yep- that what he’s called. By some, anyway. Rakalam (which somehow translates into “the inaudible sound of the invisible sun”) is a moniker that was given to legendary drummer, Bob Moses, by his spiritual guide. Although (or maybe, because) my lesson with him partly felt as though I were inside of a lost chapter from an old Carlos Castaneda book, Rakalam altered my musical and non-musical life.
I took much, musically and otherwise, from that encounter. One of the biggies is something I’ve certainly written about before, but deserves needs repeating. If not for anyone else, at least for myself to hear again.
A few years ago, I had the honor of spending three hours alone with Moses, in a classroom at Boston’s New England Conservatory. After I perform a short requested drumset solo for him, he leans toward me, closes his eyes, processes what he just heard . . . and then slow raises his eyelids.
“You . . . have lots of great ideas. But . . . you didn’t commit to a single one of them.”
But he wasn’t done. Oh, no. He went on, venturing to guess that, outside of music making, that lack of commitment was most likely reflected in nearly every other area of my life. “Great ideas. No commitment.” Double damn.
But these words were not spoken to break me down. Quite the opposite. Bob explained that the ideas, the heart, the potential, the desire, the nucleus, those were all there. What I needed, and sorely lacked, were commitment . . . and intent. (Crap, I am in a Casteneda book.) If I were to grow and succeed, I had to find a way to fully commit to an idea. One tiny little idea. Rather than bouncing back and forth between a hundred of them. Commit to that one little idea, develop it, develop it some more, and then develop it some more. He made it very clear that an entire drum solo could be derived from nothing but one tiny idea. A miniscule motif that, if fully committed to and developed, will gradually and organically grow into something bigger, more engaging and more powerful than anything your [limited] ears and brain would ever have created. Commit to an idea. Succumb to it. And simply be the vehicle that allows it to reach others.
Wow- how that applies to life, huh?!
How many times have you come up with that simple, yet incredible, idea that was going to knock everyone’s socks off? Or had that little epiphany that was going to change everything forever? And how many times did you make a note or two on the topic, but eventually ended up sidetracked by other ideas? Newer, fresher, incredible ideas. Maybe you tried that first idea for a bit but, as it was taking a while to show any yield, you jumped on to another. Then another. And another. Finally, your schedule got too packed, and you had to give that first idea up altogether, to make time for others.
Now imagine what you might have done, created, written, built, initiated, discovered, solved- had you only stuck with that first “brilliant” concept. What if you had followed through, from inception to completion and realization?
Now, don’t think for even a second that I’m preaching some “holier-than-thou” mumbo jumbo here. “You people should be doing this, then you could be like me.” Oh no, no, no . . . like I mentioned above, this post is written to myself perhaps moreso than anyone else. God knows I’ve certainly got my own commitment issues. I claim that I’m going to accomplish a pretty ridiculous list of things this year. But I’m already behind on several of them. Could it be time to pick just one small goal and kick some serious butt on it? And any former girlfriend reading this is chomping at the bit, dying to jump all over me in the comments about having no right whatsoever to talk about this “commitment” thing. I know, I know. Throw me a bone here . . . this is me workin’ on it.
And, Bob? Thank you.
Thoughts? Do you suck at committing to, and developing, one small idea at a time? Do you rock at it? If so, what’s your secret? Share in the comments below!
(photo by The Cleveland Kid)