30 December 2007

It's Sunday, the day of rest

Well, it's Sunday and technically should be the day of rest. In many ways, it still is a day of rest for me as I'm doing all the things I enjoy, even though they require voluntary effort on my part and take up my whole day.

Oh, by the way, after writing the previous post last night, I got up and was swept away with exhaustion and decided I would just go to sleep. I was actually so tired, I couldn't even fall asleep! Have you ever had these before where you're too tired to even sleep!? I hate it when that happens because I really am wasting my time but at the same time, I can't do anything else! I slept a good 9 hours and woke up. All my early morning plans had to get shoved aside or pushed to the afternoon, but that's alright. So what do I have planned for today? As usual, a lot of course:
  • Do my breathing exercises
  • Practice drums (Drum Set, Hands, Feet)
  • Sort out my to-do's for the rest of the week regarding all my freelance work
  • Finalize all my gym workout routines (and get a work out while I'm at it)
  • Finish sorting out a few more processes on my computer
  • Go play my drum gig tonight
  • Update this post to see how much of this I've accomplished :P
You know, the more I try to do, the more I agree with one statement that said you are as productive as you are relaxed. I used to be a big fan of intensity where I thought the more intense I was, the more work I could get done. But that's like saying the tenser your muscles, the more you can get them to work. Muscles work by getting tense, not being tense! Same for me being productive, by starting off relaxed, I give myself all that room of building focus and intensity as I become productive.

Speaking of being focused, after a lot of hard work and discipline, I've managed to get quite focused now when I practice my drumming. I can sit there with my practice pad and metronome and do a series of control bounces at the same speed for a whole 10 minutes without getting bored. How? Well Rhythm Coach on my DB-90 metronome helps a lot because it keeps things happening, one moment I'm on the dot, next moment I'm too fast or too slow so I have to keep up constantly! In the beginning this used to get discouraging, but now I love it! Makes me really focus on hitting the mark of every beat perfectly! I'm not saying I want to be a drum machine, I'm saying I want to have the option of being a drum machine when I was to.

Wow, that brings me to another point. I was watch the Modern Drummer Festival 2006 Saturday & Sunday last night and in the interviews section, Thomas Lang talked about his performances and how he improvises most of his performances and it made me think of one thing. Many artists and people who always claim to want to break the rules in their creativity and so choose to do things with no regard to the rules. Now I'm sure you've heard the statement "To break the rules, you need to know what the rules are first". That goes the same with my drumming. For me to play drums with a human touch (ie. not like a machine), I need to be able to be a machine, too. Basically, instead of saying I don't want to play like a machine, so I don't practice as strict as I do, is wrong. It should be "I can play like a machine, but in this situation, I choose not to." Jo Jo Mayer said the same thing when he talked about using a drum stick's bounce rather than trying to do the full down and up motion by yourself. He says not to think of this as a crutch where you rely on the bounce to get the job done, but more like you realize the bounce is going to happen, so why not work in harmony with it rather than waste the potential of the stick's bounce? So true, so true! Ever since I started doing a lot of the things I do, I've learnt to see the world around me in a different perspective. Things that used to discourage me because I'd feel let down by them now pump me up even more because it reminds me how much it all comes down to me and myself.

One day while walking in the MTR, I thought of one phrase which I really like: "Only I can hurt me". This is so true! Things that used to upset me or hurt me only bother me because I let them into my system and do their damage. It's just a mental shift that is necessary for me to push them out or turn them into energy for me to go even further. When I did my corporate stand up comedy gig, I was nervous as ever. I think the most nervous I'd ever been in my life because I was really, really, on my own. But that experience made me also realize the potential that was in me when it came to relying on myself. It reminded me how much I can do as long as I shift my focus in the right direction! I mentally prepared myself that night and just let it flow and it worked out! :D This was one thing I learnt from the book Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within where the author talked about why musicians did drugs and stuff and about how the best performances were those by musicians who just let it go and play. It's so true. Many seasoned musicians will tell you the same thing. Practice all you want, but when it comes to performance time, throw it all away and just play the music! I do that very often now, I go with my feeling rather than the vocabulary of licks and grooves I have in my head. But to do this, I need to have that vocabulary to start off with. It's much like a person who learns the alphabet and a few words can never write a masterpiece. I need to have my vocabulary digested into my system to really be able to play-at-will! The same goes with my stand up routines. The more I do it, the more my bits get digested into my system and I can pull at them whenever I want and execute them at will. And so having done that corporate gig, it makes me realize that shows at the comedy club are relatively nothing (stress-wise) comparatively and so whenever I perform there and find myself getting nervous, I remember how I managed to survive through the corporate gig and I'm calm again.

This brings me back to the things I have to do today. Don't get me wrong, there have been many, many, many days where I wanted to do 100 things and only accomplished one. Heck, last night was a perfect example. While writing my entry, I had all these things lined up. After pressing the Publish Post button, I just went to sleep! But this doesn't discourage me because I also know there were times when I wanted to do 100 things and I ended up doing 101 things! I know it's possible so I keep at it and take advantage of it whenever I can. If I can't, I accept it and move on! :)

But one final note before I go and get on with my day and stop making this a super long post, is that what I say here is theoretically straight-forward and true. Like any other human, I have times of weakness where I find myself just emotionally wrecked. All the great ways of thinking and positivity just can't help me. This, in my opinion, is normal, it reminds me that I'm still a fragile human being that is alive. It's at times like these I appreciate the days when I'm truly a happy, happy person because without a few crap moments, happy moments will get normalized and you'll get used to it. So on days when I feel bummed out, it's really a blessing in disguise because thanks to that day, the next day when I feel better, I'll really feel better, not just be better.

Anyways, let's see how I get through today!

Update at 4:19pm.
I've done the following:
  • Breathing exercises
  • Drum practice (Drumset)
I'm about to go shower then hit the gym, so on my way I'll try and sort out the following:
  • Sort out my to-do's for the rest of the week regarding all my freelance work
  • Finalize all my gym workout routines (and get a work out while I'm at it)
Going to be a long, long day.... :)

Update at 01:19am (31 Dec. 2007)
Wow, I just got home. The show went well and boy was I glad I went to the gym before hand! I sorted out all the different variations on exercises I can/will be doing, so I'm all set for a routine. I'll be back tomorrow to work out my aerobic exercises. Still debating if I should go jog around the race track or just stick to the gym. I don't want to strain my knees too much but at the same time, the race track just rocks!

Alright! So I still need to accomplish the following:
  • Drum practice (Hand/Feet exercises)
  • Finish sorting out a few more processes on my computer
I didn't fully finish off writing out all the work I have for my freelance projects and also I still have my hand and feet exercises I need to get through for my drums. Speaking of drums, I got so much time to jam tonight on stage! I love jamming! This is the time where I really just throw away everything I've practiced and just play from the heart. I'm not scared to muck up nor am I worried I'll miss the beat. I have faith in my jamming abilities and tonight it went nice and smooth as usual! All those rap beats I've learn came out and I funk'ed up what was supposed to be a totally metal show! Hehe!

I'm off to finish off the remainder of today's to-do's! :D

Update: 04:09am (31 Dec 2007):
Woohoo, finished!
  • Drum practice (Hand exercises)
  • Finish sorting out a few more processes on my computer
Ok, I admit, I didn't do my feet exercises because I really was just too damn tired I couldn't help it. I just got out of the shower and am about to hit the sack. I have a long, long day ahead of me tomorrow before I say goodbye to good old 2007. I still remember starting the year with the phrase "2007 is the year for change". A lot has changed! A lot! Some of them were intentional and voluntary, while others were unfortunately forced upon me. But I can only take them all as blessings because if not for them, I wouldn't be where I am today. So much has happened that it makes me really curious as to where I'll be this time next year. For once, I look back at the year and don't feel "wow, the year's over already?" but instead smile because I know I really made the most of the year, just like I made the most of today.

I had my highs and obviously I had my lows... but today, I'm at peace with myself. As of right now, I know I did my best and that's all that matters to me, that I did my best and that means tomorrow I'll be better than I was today because as long as I keep working at something, I do nothing but improve.

I wish all my readers the best of luck in 2008 because let me say it now, 2008 is the year everything happens. I can feel it in my blood! I've worked too damn hard for it not to and I know I can, so it's just a matter of doing it now! Watch out world! :D

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