Rescuing Your Rhythm

Remember when I rapped about gaps?

And how they cause you to lose your groove? And fall face first into a puddle of suck?

Yeah.

Hard stuff. Ouchie stuff. Totally-not-fun stuff.

So it might seem all logical-like to assume that all gaps are evilbadhorrible things. Something to be avoided at all cost.

(Because, for reals, who wants to end up with suck all over their face?)

But not all gaps are Satan’s spawn.

Sure, some gaps suck. A lot.

But some gaps not only don’t suck, they can actually save your life. Or, at least, your rhythm.


Mucho importante!

And your rhythm is important.

Really important.

Like so-important-I-can’t-even-tell-you-how-important important. Except I already kind of did. Because it’s important.

Your life is shaped by your rhythm.

So when your rhythm rocks, your life is gorgeous. When your rhythm gets acked up, your life gets not-so-gorgeous.

And you don’t have to be a sound nerd like me to grok this rhythm thing.

You get it instinctively.

You know those ridiculously rad moments when you feel like you’re totally in your groove? Like you’re seriously rocking whatever you’re doing in a thousand different ways?

Or, at the more craptastic end of the spectrum, those days when you feel out of sync and no matter what you do you just can’t get into the flow?

It’s all about the rhythm.


So frakking sensitive

And the truth is our rhythms are sensitive creatures.

They’re prone to bumping into walls. And sputtering out. And heading into deep left field sometimes.

And all kinds of stuff can cause your rhythm to go all kooky pants on you.

Past ack. Current ack. Anxiety about future ack.

Lack of sleep. Lack of inspiration. Lack of knowing-how-much-you-absosmurfly-rock.

And then there’s the stories that suck. And the aforementioned gaps that suck. And the inner clutter-ey bits that suck.

So, yeah.

It’s not hard to see how your rhythm can get all kinds of funky. (And, to be clear, I’m talking rotten eggs funky. Not P-Funk funky.)


Plip-plop, plip-plop

Any of this sound familiar?

Your rhythm is off. You know it’s off. But you don’t know how to fix it.

The ack is piling up. Everywhere.

You’re watching it pile up. Because you don’t know what else to do.

So the ack just keeps plip-plopping atop the ever-growing Mountain of Ack.

And you’re feeling more helpless by the second.

Oof.

Not knowing how to fix your rhythm once it gets acked up causes the suck to multiply like rabbits.

Which makes you freak out.

Which makes your rhythm get even more acked up.


Lessons from drumming (that you totally don’t have to be a drummer to get)

I drum a lot. Like pretty much every day.

Sometimes the groove is good.

The rhythm is sweet. The beats are tight. I am officially in the zone.

And then sometimes the groove just kind of sucks.

My timing is off. My fingers are tripping over each other. Everything just sounds blergh-ey.

The fabulousness has clearly left the building.

I’ve learned that there are pretty much only two choices when your rhythm gets ungorgeous.

  1. Keep pushing and hope for the best.
  2. Take a break. Take a breath. Try it again.

When I first started drumming, I’d always take door number one when my groove started to suck.

I’d make some really wicked squint-ey face – a sign of concentration + mondo ack – and just keep banging away.

I figured that if I kept pushing I’d eventually find my way back to the rhythm.

The problem was that my pushing was fueled by all kinds of anxiety and adrenaline and frustration.

Which explained why I was banging even louder and harder than I was when things were gorgeous.

So not only was my rhythm rotten eggs funky, but now it was even louder than before.

So – shocker! – I never found my way back to gorgeous by pushing. Things just got messier and messier and messier.


Door number two FTW! (aka Rhythm Rescuing 101)

Eventually I got hip to the fact that door number two makes way more sense.

Instead of pushing and banging and amplifying the ack, I can just stop.

I don’t have to keep tripping over myself. Or freaking out. Or scrambling to find the groove again.

I can take a break. And take a reeeeeeeeeaaally deep breath.

And just relax.

Mmmmm.

The cool part about this?

The freaking out part and the scrambling around part stops the second I stop.

Stopping creates a good kind of gap that just unplugs all the stuff that’s feeding the ack.

The even cooler part?

When I stop, I can get back to the rhythm way faster.

No more banging out some anxiety-fueled suckfest for five minutes.

Stopping for a second or two is enough to get my bearings. And to get back to gorgeous.


This (obviously) isn’t about drumming

Drumming and life are a lot alike.

You take a step. You add a beat. You take another step. You add another beat.

When the beat is good, you feel good. Life feels good.

And when the beat isn’t so good, you can totally call a time out to get your bearings. Which makes way more sense than just banging away and hoping for the best.

Plus taking a break is a kinder, gentler option than pushing yourself until you overdose on anxiety and adrenaline.

Life can be hard enough.

Give yourself permission to stop for a second when you need to find your rhythm again.

Stopping is good.

You’ll get back to gorgeous way faster than you would if you just keep tripping over a rhythm that’s totally not working.

So consider this a raving endorsement for the good kind of gaps.

And for taking as many breaks as you need.

Anytime.

Anywhere.

As often as you need them.

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9 Responses to Rescuing Your Rhythm
  1. Pam/Moonslark
    March 26, 2010 | 11:59 am

    YAY!! You’re back!!
    I have been considering different ways of looking at my pattern/rhythm/systems lately and wondering things.
    Some events in my life have completely CHANGED my patterns/rhythms. The movement of my spirit/soul changed drastically several times in my life — traumas as well as blessings have rewritten the song of my soul throughout my history. Is that common, for the song/rhythm to change so much that trying to find it becomes a mystery??
    What can one do when the song is undefinable?
    .-= Pam/Moonslark´s last blog ..WishCast Wednesday/Zen Thursday =-.

  2. Mom2Miles
    March 26, 2010 | 1:23 pm

    Ha! You’re funny. I like how you write. “Craptastic” is an awesome word. 🙂 I’m not much for drumming, but what you say makes sense. I like the part about taking breaks. Have you seen “The Visitor”? Awesome movie about an unlikely drummer.

    Found you through Good Vibe Coach, BTW.

  3. Giulietta the Muse
    March 26, 2010 | 3:48 pm

    Great topic & title! We’re not taught to use our pause buttons, only fast forward and rewind. Sometimes you need a time out of the madness to assess where you are and where you want to go. You don’t want to go forward or back, just stay in the moment and enjoy it for what it is. That’s the breather you need to regroup!

    Thanks for the reminder.
    Giulietta
    .-= Giulietta the Muse´s last blog ..Who are your heroes or heroines? =-.

  4. chicsinger simone
    March 26, 2010 | 9:39 pm

    Wow! This is so true. Good stuff, and I appreciate the permission to take breaks!

    Rock on, son.

  5. Sarah
    March 27, 2010 | 10:45 am

    This is so what I need to read right now. I am in a job-induced rut right now and really angry about it. Hence my energy is a mess and I have lost myself. But today is Saturday and I am taking a breath and doing something fun.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Koala collar to big =-.

  6. Josiane
    March 30, 2010 | 12:51 pm

    So, the good kind of gaps are the ones I consciously choose and create, and that helps me avoid rushing into the not-so-good kind of gaps… Hmm, I like that image. I have a feeling it will help the idea of “stopping, taking a break, taking a breath, then trying again” sink in deeper. 🙂
    .-= Josiane´s last blog ..Middle of the night musings =-.

  7. Natalie Christie
    March 31, 2010 | 7:17 pm

    Yes! Rhythm is it, baby. And I especially get the need to stop, and pause. And breathe.

    Like a metronome that won’t find its rhythm if you keep knocking it and pushing it around, you have to grab hold of yourself, stop, and then ease your way into a new rhythm, gently and with one push – then let the momentum of your new groove take over the swing. Much less work, waaaay more fun.

    Awesomesauce as usual my friend.

    Nat 🙂
    .-= Natalie Christie´s last blog ..Why You Must Stop Flirting With Unprepared =-.

  8. Joshua Fry
    March 31, 2010 | 7:30 pm

    Nice stuff man, I like! I wonder if you have come across Victor Wooten’s book ‘The Music Lesson’? You just reminded me of it. It’s quite a strange read, but has some genuinely awesome tips for cultivating groove and timing within it… and though it’s focussed on bass guitar, such things really apply to all instrumentalists. Anyway, keep up the good work!
    .-= Joshua Fry´s last blog ..brainformusic:Working on my essay about the functions of music… =-.

  9. Fabeku
    April 1, 2010 | 1:28 pm

    @Pam – Yeah, our rhythms change all the time. Sometimes a little. Sometimes a lot. And I get how tricky (and scary and hard and frustrating) it can be when things change so much that we don’t even recognize the rhythm or where we’re at in relationship to it.

    When the rhythm is hard to find, doing what you need to do to take care of you is usually pretty helpful. Somehow, in that quiet space of ooh-ey goo-ey goodness, you’ll start to pick up bits of the rhythm again.

    And, as kooky as it might sound, when I lose the rhythm I like to pay attention to my pulse. It’s like a drumbeat on the inside. And plugging in to that makes it easier for me to get that deeper rhythm back.

    @M2M – I love The Visitor. I have a copy of it. And have watched it a lot. Good flick!

    @Giulietta – You’re so right about the pause button thing. And the longer we don’t use it, the more alien the idea seems. Which totally sucks.

    @Simone – Yeah, the permission to take breaks thing can be really helpful. Maybe we all need to keep gently reminding each other that it really is ok to ease up a bit?

    @Sarah – Ergh. Sorry about the rut-ey stuff. I hear the hard in what you’re saying. And can I just shout a resounding woot! that you took the time to do something fun? Go you!

    @Josiane – You got it! It’s like the good kind of gaps help to prevent the sucktastic kind of gaps. Plus the good gaps just make life way more fun.

    @Nat – Ooh, I love the metronome idea. That totally fits. Continued knocking around is definitely no bueno. For metronomes. Or people.

    @Joshua – Glad you dug the post. Thanks for saying so. And how cool that you mentioned The Music Lesson. I literally just got that book a week or so ago. It’s next on my list. I can’t wait to dig in. I snuck a few peeks and love what I read so far.

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