Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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“Let go Luke”

DrumkitI have many hobbies. Too many probably, but two of those hobbies are drumming and shooting. I picked up the drums years ago when Amy gave me drum lessons as a Valentine’s Day present. It was a lot of fun learning a new instrument and there is definitely something satisfying about pounding away on the kit.


As I was learning to play I discovered an interesting phenomenon. The music would be going and I’d be playing along. Sometimes I would really be into it and kind of zone out while I was playing. Along the way I’d realize that the things I was playing were pretty complicated but once I thought about what I was playing, it would fall apart. In short, the moment I thought about what I was doing, rather than just doing it, I’d have problems. I got so good at recognizing this that when I felt myself thinking about what I was playing, I’d try to distract myself and keep the beat going or I’d simplify what I was playing so I wouldn’t miss a beat. It took a lot of practice to become consistently good at the drums even when I was thinking about it.


Likewise, I enjoy shooting. For the longest time I’d shoot pistols, occasionally doing speed trials with friends or otherwise just put holes in paper targets. Then a friend recommended we try trap shooting, where a machine flings a clay disc into the sky and you try to shoot it with a shotgun. I gave it a try, certain I was going to miss all the time. I discovered that each time I hit the pigeon (the clay target); I was emotionally good for about five misses. So in my first round, I hit 5 out of 25 targets. Better than I thought I’d do.


As we shot trap more, I became better at it. Now I pretty much always hit at least half the targets and most of the time 2/3rds. Trap shooting is strangely calming. You yell “Pull” and a target goes flying. You take a shot and then a second one goes flying. You take a shot at it and the round is over. While the targets are flying your whole world becomes aiming the shotgun and pulling the trigger at the right time and as fluidly as possible.


Like drumming, I discovered if I did not think about what I was doing, I shot better and hit more targets. The times are analyzed each step were the times I missed. Sometimes I’d start to squeeze the trigger, but second guess myself and the target would just fall to the ground as I quickly pulled the trigger, missing by a wide margin. Once I recognized this, I made myself smoothly go through the motions, letting everything just happen rather than think of the individual steps necessary to hit the target.


So what does this discovery mean to me? I am a very analytical person by nature. In fact the more minor the decision to make is, the harder I look at it. Figuring out what kind of computer and its configuration I need to purchase is a pretty quick decision for me. Deciding on a restaurant to go to however is not. In short, I often think too much on unimportant things.


I need to relax and let my subconscious help guide me in these minor decisions. After all, my subconscious is fully capable of hitting a four inch diameter clay disc fifty feet away while moving and it is also capable of putting in a decent drum fill and slide back into sixteenth notes on the high hat. It is only when I try to consciously control these things that I mess them up. Trust your instincts and your subconscious, especially for tasks and decisions that you have performed before. It should guide you well and reduce your stress, it has for me.