From my earliest days, I wanted to play drums. When I was old enough to join band, I had an interview with the band director to decide which instrument I would play. The interview went something like this:
So, young man, you want to learn to play music. What instrument would you like to play?
You know, you look like the sort of guy who would be good on trombone. Would you like that?
I knew a boy just like you who learned to play the clarinet.
I want to play drums
You know, you have the perfect lips for trumpet.
Are you sure I couldn’t interest you in…………
NO, I WANT TO PLAY DRUMS!!
So drums it was. Initially, it was more difficult than I had expected. But I was consumed with it and refused to give up. As I was learning to play, I watched what other drummers did, how they moved, how they achieved a certain sound. I emulated the ones I liked best. I would listen to a song that had a particular drum beat that I liked; then I would practice it over and over again until I was finally satisfied with the way I played it. I pursued percussion relentlessly because it was the thing that brought me the most joy at that moment in my life.
I stayed in band throughout high school and participated in a community orchestra for a few years afterwards, but I never pursued it as a career. Every once in a while I play for an event just for fun.
So what does an old percussionist, who sits at a desk all day with a pot of coffee running through his veins, do to release all that pent-up energy? Finger drumming. I play cadences and rhythms using my fingers as the “sticks” and I’m not choosy about where I play, mostly on my legs or desktop. I’ll sit and work while tapping away for hours.
I put together a little video showing the use of (1) finger each hand, then (2) fingers each hand, then (3) fingers each hand. Check this out:
I guess some people would say my drumming is a nervous habit, like biting your fingernails or rattling the keys in your pocket. Drumming helps me think. When I’m writing or working on a project, my fingers are constantly moving. While it’s probably distracting everyone around me, it helps me to focus.
Pursuit and focus are important parts of our faith. However, we need a clear view of what we are to pursue. The Declaration of Independence states that every person has the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. This is true but many have added luxury to that list. Our focus should not be fame, entertainment, or financial success. Those things have no eternal value and they don’t satisfy our deepest needs. The scriptures give us some advice on the proper things to pursue:
Hebrews 12:1-2 – NASB
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
1 Timothy 6:11 – NIV
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
These verses help us in two ways: they give us an example of who we should emulate, Jesus, and a nice list of goals to work on. None of us will ever perfectly achieve these characteristics, but we should pursue them nonetheless. There is something in the pursuit itself that makes us better people.
I raise the mug in a toast and I say, “Let us leave behind everything that keeps us from pursuing Jesus and focus instead on the things that bring eternal satisfaction.”