I remember the first time I saw a live band perform; I was 8 years old and I was mesmerized—I couldn’t take my eyes off the drummer. To me, everything revolved around his movements. I knew in that moment, without a doubt, that I was going to become a drummer. The word passion never entered my mind. All I knew was—I wanted those drums in my life.
A Makeshift drumset
My father worked two jobs so my mom could stay at home to raise four kids. Getting a set of drums was not an approved family expense. After a year of beating the pots and pans with sticks made from tree branches, my parents knew that I was fixated. “Bob, we have got to do something, this boy is about to drive me crazy. He’s destroying our pots!” I remember my mom saying.
That Christmas, I got a snare drum on a stand. I kept looking for the rest of the set, but there was just the snare: one drum. That one drum didn’t match the dream I had of myself rockin’ out on a full kit, but nevertheless, I had a drum!
Actions, not words
My dad then said a wise thing. “Let’s see how you do with this one drum and maybe…we’ll look at what’s next.” Here’s what he taught me in that moment: “What you do speaks so much more loudly than what you say.”
Every day I practiced, and I wore the skin off that snare drum. The next Christmas I got the whole set! I cried, and as I write this, the emotion of that moment still brings tears to my eyes. The drum set, for my father, was a major financial sacrifice. And at the same time—he told me years later—it brought deep meaning and pride to my mom and dad.
Follow your actions
Was playing the drums my passion? I never thought about it in that light. I just decided, I am doing this. There was no, “I'm gonna try this.” When it’s all said and done, I
think passion is what others label as your action.
Here’s a simple way to know what you are passionate about. Ready? Look at your actions. Where your focus goes, so goes your energy. If time seems to fly by while you are doing it, you are in true flow; you will create magic. That’s where you’ll find your passion.
My new passion
Today, my focus is on happiness. Is it my passion? It’s beyond passion…it’s my life, my destiny.
By the way, I ended up being a professional drummer with a group called SUN. We recorded five albums on Capitol Records and had a gold album in 1978. Want to have some fun? See what we looked like back then on Soul Train. I’m the drummer with the big afro and goatee. Don’t laugh—You know you had big hair, too!