Unleashing creativity through owning your story
“You’re not playing wrong – you’re hitting all the notes right – but it doesn’t sound like the song…”
In that moment, I felt like my drum teacher pierced or exposed something deep I could not explain. All I could think was that he was not just talking about my drum skills, but saying something about my life and the way I live and do things. Is it true: I could do everything that seems right, get all the right grades and scores, be involved in all the right things, and end up not having it sound like what it is meant to sound like?
“You have to groove.”
I kind of knew what he was saying, but I needed to know more and I looked in the dictionary. It’s a pronounced enjoyable rhythm, to interact harmoniously, and many other things that sent me on an endless discovery to keep exploring more. It’s the idea of practicing something repeatedly and at the same time enjoying it intensely. It’s a concept like flow, that is a state that you get into that makes you so concentrated in what you are doing that you lose track of time. It isn’t copied from somewhere, but is the feeling that comes out from inside of you and allows you to create. It’s the thing that inspires others to get up and dance when they listen to you. It’s proof that it’s what makes you unique and what comes from only you is what is going to make your song sound like what it is meant to sound like.
I struggled to feel like I was a creative person or had creativity because I always thought it was related to artistic or musical talents. I always thought about the value of things in terms of perfection. But in music, groove is actually characterized by being slightly off-beat. I realized that if creativity comes out of grooving, then I have to hone in on the things that make me groove and keep doing those things well with courage and without fear of messing up. I sought after people I considered boldly creative and asked them to tell me how they maintain their groove and what they do when it is hard to keep grooving. These people inspired in me the confidence that what I do is fulfilling for myself, but it is also necessary for others. The world needs my creations, my ideas, my writing, my energy, and all the music that my life is reverberating.
So, now I play not just to hit the right notes, but for others to feel the heart of each song. I dance not just to do all the moves right, but to express myself physically in a way that inspires. I serve not just to check off a to-do list, but to use my gifts to empower people. And, I dream not just to achieve, but to groove in a way that makes others get up and dance to the music I am creating as I live out my dreams.