Shyness can yield passion

Remember my second post, the one where I wrote about Bruce Springsteen coming to life on stage and conquering his shyness?

This week, I’ve decided to write about an artist who is still shy, but maintains passion for his craft and what he does: Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist from Rush, my favorite band.

Peart is widely regarded to be one of rock’s most dynamic drummers, and his lyrics reflect the mind of someone highly read and quite introspective.

Living in the limelight
While Peart’s bandmates, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, are more than willing to talk to fans on the street and before concerts, Peart prefers to stay out of the spotlight.

“I was the world’s biggest Who fan as a kid,” Peart said in a recent documentary. “I never dreamed of finding their hotel and knocking on their door or interfering in their lives in any way.

“I love being appreciated, being respected is awfully good, but anything beyond that just creeps me out,” he continued. “Any sense of adulation is just so wrong.”

This led him to write “Limelight,” a song dealing with his newfound fame following the release of the seminal 1981 album, Moving Pictures.

Singer/songwriter Kim Mitchell from fellow Canadian band Max Webster commented on the poignancy of the song’s lyrics in the documentary.

“His line, ‘I can’t pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend,’ that’s Neil,” Mitchell said.

Precision powered living
Going back to my post on eye contact, Peart’s aloof demeanor has been mistaken for arrogance and disdain for the fans that helped fuel his career.

“When people have a fantasy, I don’t want to trample on it, but I also don’t want to live it,” Peart said. “People can think that I’m antisocial or a sourpuss, but (I’m) really not. It doesn’t make me mad, it embarrasses me.”

To me, there has never been a truer statement.

Watching Peart’s interviews in the documentary and his interactions with his bandmates shows he is very enthusiastic and cheerful in a comfortable setting.

What sets him (and many introverts) apart is his level of focus on everything he is doing, particularly his drumming. It is known for being extremely precise and intense.

Talking to new and random people, on the other hand, requires a certain kind of spontaneity that no level of concentration can prepare for. It often requires you to be loose and not over-think.

People that have to focus intensely on everything they do are usually caught off guard and thrown off when something unexpected happens.

As one of these people, I feel unprepared in these situations, so I tend to avoid them. I clam up whenever someone unfamiliar is around.

However, when I get to know someone (certainly a task) I ease up and feel like I value the relationship more for the effort invested in it.

While this blog is dedicated to helping people step out of their shells, there is something to be valued from a shy demeanor as well.

I believe Peart certainly could not have become the drummer he is without his more reserved, yet intense personality.

The same goes for everyone else. Shyness is only a personality trait; it does not define our entire personality, but it is certainly a key component in our strengths as well as shortcomings.

About Bobby Waddle

Bobby Waddle is a third-year print journalism student at Bowling Green State University.
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