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Regrets, Choices & Time

That title comes off as a bit philosophical. Almost as if I'm channeling Sam Harris a bit. Famous musicians that sing are rumored to not want to hear their own voice because of hearing it so often in their work and even when they may be casually strolling through a local mall or grocery store. Fortunately I haven't reached the level of fame that would warrant such a grievance. Regrets, choices and time. Connecting forces in determining our sentient outcomes. There is another force which is nature and is out of our control.

I used to work with a talented jazz drummer off and on from about 2011-2020. He was a really good player and sometimes he was even great. He seemed to genuinely love the craft he learned as a kid in his native Brooklyn. As time passed and he aged his skills wained tremendously. If I'm being honest I think I met him at the beginning of his decline. Great person, honest, forthright and knowledgeable. The fact of the matter is that I think he just started slowly losing his hearing. Obviously as a musician unless you're Beethoven a hearing impairment isn't ideal for most bands especially in their drummer.

Without much more detail than this on the individual I'd like to introduce the context. Every time I would work with him in our last year as colleagues he became progressively more aggravated, agitated and super vocal about rebuking respectful correction. He chose to behave that way because he was frustrated about his inability to hear the details in songs. At this point he was in his early 60s. I'm partly to blame as I considered telling him to get his hearing evaluated and possible corrective care so that he could continue but was too fed up to try. He was probably to angry about what was happening with him to listen and understand regardless but he made his choices and I made mine.

This is where we come to the topic of regret. I recall working with dozens of older more experienced, possibly even more talented players than myself and my younger contemporaries. Some of these musicians when I was in my early 20s are gone now but told me tales of playing on the "Chitlin Circuit" sometimes even very shortly after legislated desegregation. These players nearly all men would tell me how good is was for us now not dealing with the perils and disadvantages they experienced navigating the American South mostly. They gave great advice and music lessons. I learned the ropes from all of these older gentlemen who I treated as mentors and even uncles. I judged all of their regrets as being wholly viable and justified because of the times they lived through. Many of these guys would be icons now had their circumstances been different.

There are however some grievances that are not worth airing, not worth sharing or even holding onto. My former drummer who was in his early 60's at the end of our tenure had more grievances which I felt turned him into a bitter individual who harbored unwarranted and non-viable regrets due to his CHOICES. Once in a rehearsal he went on a rant about musicians he had worked with in 2008/09 for 15 minutes as the band and I were waiting to practice the songs which he in turn was not prepared with. I think that he spent so much time living in his grievance, lamenting in his regret that he couldn't allow himself to be vulnerable long enough to recognize that his real issue was his hearing. I also think that at some point in his career this choice to live with massive regrets within his grievance stunted his professional and social growth.

For my next topic we will address time. Time this unfortunate aging drummer lost choosing to grieve the past which he now regrets. Time we lost as a band with him stagnating our progress in part due to the choice I made not to address his issue sooner. I regret that choice. It lost me time in creating a better team. We live our lives on a thin timeline. If we're very fortunate we get 70-80 years and all of the choices we make in that time will determine our outcomes and those of our legacy. Live a life that you won't regret and a life where you do not choose to waste time. Thanks for reading.

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