I’m Taking My Toys and Going…All In???


I am not a fan of conflict or verbal altercations, discord or confrontation. I’d rather run the other way than face those things. And for most of my life, I did. I slipped silently out of situations I deemed contentious and relationships where conflicts arose.

The only problem with that method of operating in life is it’s terrible. It’s terrible, because you don’t move through and resolve momentary problems or genuine miscommunications and grow the relationship. And while I have always contended that I would rather be alone and happy than with others and miserable, I never truly gave myself the chance to fully express myself and work toward a deeper level of understanding, compromise, and commitment…until now, that is.

Our classroom is wherever we are in life, and our teachers are everyone we interact with, if we allow it. So what better opportunity could there be to address issues of conflict and miscommunication than in a band? None, I tell ya. None.

A band is fertile ground for bringing up every issue anyone’s ever had in their lives, and as one who has shied away from speaking up, of course I would find myself repeatedly in scenarios that required I do just that, once and for all.

Were my bandmates not also some of my closest longtime friends, The Inspire Project would have been toast at least three times by now. And were we just a band, it might not have been that hard to walk away.

But the thing is we are not just a band. We are a vehicle for impacting the world positively, which sounds pretty damn lofty, I know, but hear me out on this.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we write uplifting, inspiring, and empowering songs. But we also do the work of showing up authentically and growing, so that when you come to a gig of ours, you walk away not only knowing us, but having been part of something that you will hopefully take home with you…a fresh perspective, the courage to live another day, or the spark of trying something new in your life.

And that brings me to the logical progression to…percussion instruments.

Oh yes, my friends, I’m talking about the tambourine, again. And a few other percussive doodads as well.

Sometimes we do things unconsciously, that upon further consideration, are very telling.

It was less than a week after the last time the band was going to disband, and I found myself in a drum store, which is, of course, the logical place for the keyboard player to be nosing around. Not.

I was drawn to it, like some enticing piece of forbidden fruit. I had been borrowing Lorraine’s grownup tambourine at gigs, since my own previous purchase of one was smaller and not nearly as loud and authoritative. No, it was a new day and I yearned inexplicably for percussive doodads to play.

Before I knew it, there was a small pile at the register that consisted of the aforementioned grownup tambourine (in a lovely cobalt blue), a pair of tiny maracas with a beautiful sound quality to them (in orange…or maybe it’s more of a spiced pumpkin), and sleigh bells (also in blue), which I swear I am going to use, even if I have to record an entire Christmas album to do it.

But wait, there’s more!

On the way out of the store, there was a melodica in the window. Darn you, John Batiste, how could I resist?!!

I walked out of the store as excited as a child on Christmas morning. (Insert sleigh bells sound here because I can now!) And I still had no idea why or that there might be anything significant about it.

That’s when Tanya pointed out, “So you went from quitting the band to buying four more instruments to play in it?”

Sure, hit me over the head with a maraca, Tanya. Yup, I guess some part of me decided it was time to go “all in.” And if you’re gonna go all in, you might as well do it with instruments on which you have no inherent skillset, like me and percussion.

But why am I drawn to things that could not be farther from my own image of myself? And why percussion, for God’s sake?

Not surprisingly, I’ve given this some thought. And I’ve come up with some possible answers.

Percussion, from my vantage point, requires you to be “all in” with your entire body. It requires a lack of inhibition that both scares the crap out of me and thrills me at the same time. You can hide behind a keyboard, but you can’t hide with a tambourine or maracas.

Some part of me is ready to be seen and heard, by the world and myself in a different way. Some part of me is ready to step forward, to be honest in spite of the discomfort, to lead in spite of being afraid, to try something new on the off chance it could be fun.

We haven’t ironed out how the keyboard is going to work with my occasional need to shake something, but I have every confidence we will. And I will undoubtedly be saying a prayer that I have enough coordination to find 2 and 4 while singing at the same time. It’ll be very entertaining!

Whatever it is you’ve been longing to do, I hope you do it. And whatever issues you have that have been standing in the way of your happiest and best life, it’s worth confronting them and forging a new life.

I don’t take for granted the gift of Lorraine and Tanya’s friendship, love, and understanding. Nor do I take for granted that I get to go to work with my favorite artists all the time now.

I hope you’ll come out and hear us soon.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.