Recently I realized that beneath my other negative beliefs and insecurities lie a sense of powerlessness.
For example, when I pick up my guitar and play something, I often gravitate toward licks I can’t play. But instead of finding it a fun challenge, my mind usually starts lamenting and berating. It’s as I’m purposely playing licks I can’t execute to prove how incompetent a guitarist I am, how I’m powerless to change that.
It’s not a huge leap of faith, though, to shift my attention away from things I can’t do to things I do well. All I need is a reminder. When I shift my focus to my power instead of powerlessness, I can feel my body becoming energized. Goosebumps show up all over and I feel ready to pounce on something — but it’s not a frenetic or jittery state, it feels more grounded and solid.
From this point of view, I also realize why I’ve always gravitated toward rock n roll, particularly hard rock and metal. The sound of distorted electric guitar is forceful and intense. It’s a great visceral reminder of how powerful the force of life is within us. Even in the most agitated, frantic riffing, there’s always a sense of control as well. It’s a great metaphor for how brutally strong your life force is, and how you can command it to create a mighty torrent.
For example, listen to the opening of KXM’s “ScatterBrain.” Unsteady dissonance builds up to the point of breakage, and the band kicks in with gut-punching might. The main riff is dense with kinetic activities but what it conjures up is not frantic panic. It’s more like opening up the dam and letting the river roar out of gate.
Just as I turn to my guitar to prove to myself how powerless I am, I also turned to rock n roll as a fan/listener to remind me how powerful I actually am. Powerlessness is a product of the environment I grew up in, the messages I received from others. If I can unlearn and rewrite this script, then I can begin to drive life with the kind of focus, power, and precision I can hear in a well-written metal riff.
When you pay attention to something frequently, soon you become familiar with it and it becomes a mental habit, a new normal state. I’m going to listen to rock and let it empower me.