We each want many things and for us drummers it could simply be learning that new hot lick or perhaps for the majority of us it’s landing that big gig. Regardless of whatever it is, we only have so much control over what happens and what comes our way.

We can try to achieve our goals in several ways—staying focused and having faith in ourselves, through God or a spiritual belief system, and by our actions (believing that by doing the right thing consistently it will bring us the results we desire). These tactics may or may not bring us to the place we seek, but by being open to having a new or different perspective your life experience can certainly be better.

Here’s what I mean: We often don’t appreciate what is around us and often desire most what we don’t have. We naively seek what is in our mind’s eye more, which can lead to frustration and disappointment. By not obtaining what we want, we are susceptible to connect it to our self-worth (i.e. self-esteem).

Another concept to think about is if you did achieve all you desired, would you be happy? Would it make you a better person? Would you even be satisfied? I bet not! If you did get that big gig that all of your friends and community looked at as success and a great achievement, would you be able to handle it? Not the drumming part but the personal part. Would it bring out qualities in you now kept in check—ego, arrogance, selfishness, greed, or wastefulness. These are a few of the many qualities you may not realize will become a challenge when you are put in an envious position. You could, in fact, alienate the people currently around you when your personal stock goes up. In the end, getting what you want may cost you more than you are aware of.

Something I always try to point out to my students is that before you can play the pattern or groove that is now so difficult and beyond your ability, remember this moment. Things seem so valuable and perhaps even unachievable before you are able to do or get them, but immediately after you master that groove or lick, it becomes less valuable. This goes with anything—we want what we cannot have.

Here is another approach. Try a deliberate practice to “Be Here Now.” Simple words but very hard to do and maintain. By living in the moment along with the three original ways listed above, we may at least enjoy the “ride,” so to speak … the process. The moment and what we do with it is all we really have. Living in the present mindfulness, as the Buddhists call it, will not only enable us to strive towards our goals but also to enjoy the path we take getting there.

The journey each day is the only place we have to make solid and wise choices in every moment. Acting in a mindful way will teach you to be sensitive to and also value more the people and things currently around you. This important practice will set you up far more to win in life than any goal or desire achieved. Let me leave you with a story. 

The Story of The Chinese Farmer

Long ago, there was an old farmer who lived in a small village. He was a poor farmer who had one horse. He used his horse to plough the fields so that he could make a living.

One day, the horse broke out of the corral and ran away. Upon hearing the news, the villagers came by saying, “Such bad luck. How will you manage?”

The old farmer shrugged and said, “Good luck, bad luck—who’s to say, who’s to know?” Perplexed at the old farmer’s nonchalance towards the apparent tragedy, the villagers went about their business.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. Again the villagers came by very excited telling the old farmer, “Oh! What great luck you have! It was fortunate for the horse to have run off in the first place.” The old farmer shrugged and said, “Good luck, bad luck—who’s to say, who’s to know?” Again they were perplexed at his nonchalance towards the apparent good fortune and went on their way.

The following day, the old farmer’s son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. “What bad luck,” the villagers exclaimed. “Your son has broken his leg, that’s terrible!” The old farmer shrugged and said, “Good luck, bad luck—who’s to say, who’s to know?” I’m sure by now you can guess the villagers reaction.

A few days later, military officials came to the village to draft young men for the war that was raging in the south. Seeing that the old farmer’s son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The villagers congratulated the old farmer on his good fortune but the old farmer shrugged and said: “Good luck, bad luck—who’s to say, who’s to know?”

Making sense of a seemingly good or bad situation is sometimes misleading. Regardless, you could not have the good without knowing the bad and things certainly are not always what they seem.

Chris DeRosa is a drummer, producer, composer and session musician based in New York. Find him online at


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