I had a remarkable experience last night. Something scary that I've never felt before.
This is another life lesson I've learned through the prism of creating music, so pardon me as it inevitably starts with a paragraph or two about my new project.
My new singer/songwriter project, The Belief Cycle, is not easy for me. Over the last several years producing mostly rap music (I've been successfully changing that recently but that's another story) I began to be asked to "DJ" for rappers. If you're not familiar, rap shows are mostly a guy with a laptop pressing play while rappers rap over the beats. This is unacceptable for me coming from my musical background. Looking for a way to back these artists up in a more unique fashion that involved actual performance I turned to my Maschine pad, one of my studio production tools (google it). I began learning to perform beats live on the pad (finger drumming) and it's elicited response at every show and has become another facet of my career that I'm known for.
This summer when The Belief Cycle became an idea in my mind I had to pursue, it seemed natural that in performing my new songs I should continue down the finger drumming path. I'm now singing on top of my finger drumming. While there are some notable finger drummers out there (the world's best is Jeremy Ellis who has become an adjunct member of The Roots), my research shows no evidence of anyone else on the planet singing while playing finger drums. Hence I'm now promoting myself and The Belief Cycle with the line "world's first singing finger drummer." I've always strived to find a different way to create and perform music so I'm proud to be the world's first at something. Problem is, it's hard as hell! Finger drumming and singing simultaneously is the single most difficult musical pursuit I've ever undertaken.
I have my first show as The Belief Cycle this Saturday 12/3 in Chicago at the Music Garage. I'm not prepared. Not due to lack of trying. On the contrary, I've rehearsed hours everyday for weeks. This is where I bring it back around to the beginning of this post.
To keep up with my work and rehearsal schedules, I've compromised my sleep. I'm assuming this lack of sleep is the seed of where I'm about to arrive at in the story.
My body shut down last night.
I've never experienced anything like it. I began my nightly rehearsal after a day of working and a heavy workout and when I began to put my fingers to the drum pads, they weren't moving the way my brain was telling them to. I couldn't play but I tried to stumble through. I felt very tired going into it, about as tired as I've ever felt, but I was still surprised by what seemed to be a disconnect between what I was trying to do and my body's execution of it. I began trying to sing on top of my sloppy drumming. Only about a minute into the first song I think I almost fainted. I've never fainted but it must be something like this. My vision went fuzzy, my legs gave out but I caught myself on a radiator and was able to stay standing and conscious.
So what's the point? How did I respond?
I rehearsed for 3 more hours. I worked with just my hands for a bit to get them acclimated to functioning again. I began singing on top and starting running my set full out. Did it sound great? Hell no! But I got my reps in and I'm better for it.
Why didn't I quit when my mind and body said "no more"? I recently learned about the 40% rule. To balance out all my airy fairy self-development and philosophy studies I like to seek out some knowledge from former Navy Seals. Positive vibes alone don't go very far without discipline. The 40% rule says if your mind tells you you've given your all, you've actually still got 60% left to give. I haven't read the studies personally but there is science to back this up. Last night was my first chance to give the rule a try and it worked.
The lesson: We all have much more to give than we think. The 40% rule doesn't just have to be applied to physical pursuits. In your relationships, in this world- maybe you think you're giving it all but maybe you're not even halfway there. Push the limits of your body, mind and soul with me and let's see what we can accomplish.