A Really, Really Compelling Title

Dedicated to my homie who helped me see the truth.

Michael Jagdeo - high school - steel pan 2

I’d like to share another part of my life with you: my musical side.

Trombone in elementary, trumpet in middle, and trombone again in high school (I pretended I was a beginner to get a 93 in the class). I remember switching to trumpet because I wanted to play LEAD. I wanted to be HEARD. But damn, straining to hit a high note on mouthpiece the size of a dime? I wasn’t about that life…still wanted to be in the foreground, though. Somehow. I wasn’t a popular kid, and so maybe I was looking for another route into the spotlight?

Luckily, steel pan was offered as a credit course. I’d come in at 7:30AM and just LOSE MYSELF, playing the few songs I did know over, and over, and over, and over again. Sometimes another student – always the same guy – would hear me playing, take a seat at the drums, and we’d jam. I didn’t even know the dude’s name.

The Breakthrough

In the last 10 years, though, I kinda hit a wall skill-wise. You know what’s funny about that? I didn’t spend much time lamenting my fate. I figured I’d hit my peak and that was that. I was good – not great – good. And what of it? Happens to everyone, right?

Thinking back on it, that’s fucking scary!!! That I just let myself just, kinda, just, you know…blah?

But that’s all changed in the past 12 months. My progression came to a head yesterday, when I was able to work out the guitar solo to Waiting in Vain by Bob Marley, a piece that I always dreamed of being able to play. 0:23 is the specific part that just seemed…nope, not in this lifetime! But there I am, and those are really my hands, and I’m playing softly! Daaaaaamn, son! You know how HARD that is!?

What changed? Well, for one…marijuana. Indica taught me how to enjoy music on a whole ‘nother level, and sativa taught me to enjoy soloing and creating music. Say what you want, but nowadays I can hear chords, notes, instruments, and interrelationships that I NEVER knew existed.

But of course, there’s more to it than that. Much more. I’m practicing more than I ever have, but it’s like, a different kind of practicing…I’m like, tappin’ into powerful neurochemicals n’ shit

Flow: The Rise of Superman

Key points:

  1. 29:04 – How being in flow will fundamentally improve the quality of your life
  2. 17:50 – Flow as an elegantly addicting drug
  3. 30:00 – Stimuli that trigger flow
  4. 35:21 – Getting into flow by controlling your fucking BRAINWAVES, coolie…

From extreme athletes to battle rappers, Csikszentmihalyi (heretofore referred to as Csizzla) found that all top performers achieved the heights of human capabilities by regularly and systematically placing themselves in a state he coined flow. Specifically, The Rise of Superman by Kotler (heretofore referred to as Kalonji) taught me how to move from the Struggle/Beta Brain Waves to Flow/Theta&Gamma by introducing diaphragmatic breathing when I feel the Struggle/Beta stage coming on (35:21).

Flow Genome Matrix - Steven Kotler - The Rise of Superman

But that’s not nearly the full story. Csizzla and Kalonji believe that regularly entering into the state of flow is the veritable secret to happiness because it produces no-self (anatta), absolute presence, and by virtue of the challenging task required, promotes self-actualization. Oh yeah, and since flow produces the same neurochemicals as all of the drugs we’re addicted to (17:50), it feels UHMAZING. I’ve felt it, numerous times, just never knew what to call it.

Not to belabour the point, but over the past year I’ve asked myself over and over and over and over again, per Seneca, to what end do I toil? Csizzla and Kalonji might say that the end is in being in flow when toiling, thereby rendering toil a misnomer of sorts. Rather, the question might be worded, ‘To what end do I live?’ to which the reply might be to drink life to the lees by discovering our passions and pursuing them in such a way that tests our might without breaking our will.

To Identify or Not to Identify

So…what? Am I a comedian? Am I a musician? Am I a writer? As David Suchet and Patrick Stewart argue, perhaps I’m asking the wrong question. Perhaps I don’t have to choose at all.

The Challenge of Freedom

I used to assume that I knew what I wanted in life. The mantra I stuck to was: I want to become a killer comedian. But that’s just not the full picture. I love playing pan. I love writing. I love making people laugh.

So here I am, unclear as to my direction, but the lack of visibility isn’t painful like it used to be. Right now, I’m experiencing flow through music and writing. I wonder if I tried to bring my practice of flow to the stage? I wonder…you know what? That crowd work I was doing felt like flow

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About Michael Jagdeo

My name's Michael Jagdeo, and I refuse to write about myself in the third person. I'm a Comedian from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition to honing my stand-up comedy act, I maintain this blog and write the weekly comedy article for blogTO.com.
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