There is a small group of people in the world who “dance to the beat of a different drummer” as the old saying goes. I don’t know how she dances, but I do know that Lili is keeping a tight beat for the rest of us. She is, after all, a stellar drummer…who can sing like an angel.
Lili got her first drum kit for Christmas when she was in 6th grade. A bold move from her parents to finally give in to her wish. Now a senior in high school, Lili wants to take her musical talent to the next level. And mom, if you’re reading this, her new Christmas wish would be to get accepted to the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston. “But I could also go to NYU,” which just so happened to be the shirt I was wearing.
Quarantining through COVID has been a challenge to all of us. Having three teenagers myself, I know how hard it's been for Lili. “I was supposed to go to New York on a class trip,” she bemoaned before adding, “I could have been in Fiji” (on another class trip. Just for the record, I had no idea school trips could be so exotic. I once got to visit the local newspaper plant when I was a senior, and I was just happy to out of class.
Once the new normal of the pandemic settled, Lili found a new rhythm in life by taking her music to the next level. She created a routine of playing music, one day the piano, the next day the drums. “It was good for me” she said because it pushes her to learn more and to do more. Music theory became her music therapy to help her with her own funk in life. A lesson that spoke to my own heart.
Fun Fact: I was surprised to learn that Lili only started learning how to read music a year ago after taking an AP music theory class at her prep school.
Born and raised in Tampa, Lili has a twin brother. I used to say tell parents of twins that “It’s such a beautiful way to go insane.” Like many fraternal twins, they are both different and yet very much the same. “I’m the funnier one,” she said when asked. Although they share birthdays, the TV, and the Playstation, but Lili is definitely her own person. She is smart, articulate, passionate and deep. She has a soul that has soul. Which might explain when I asked her what genre of music she liked Lili said, “as long as it’s a work of art, I’ll listen to it.”
Since it is Election Day, I had to ask her how she imagines the future when she is ready to vote. As part of the March For Our Lives, a movement to end gun violence, I wasn’t too surprised to hear her say, “I think we need to eliminate all the undemocratic practices, they are the key to our failure.” I have a feeling Lili will be a part of moving that revolution forward. After all, she is a drummer that’s used to leading and keeping the beat strong and steady.
When I thought about our hour together – discussing everything from politics to sexuality to religion – I couldn’t help but think about myself at her age. I too was obsessed with music. I loved having political discussions and being active in making changes in the world. And at a time when it wasn't popular to do so, I was open and affirming to all people. All which seem to prep me for this particular interview.
Fun Fact: (although this never came up) when I was Lili's age I took her mom to the Prom.
Lili’s mom was the one who set this interview up for me. She thought the two of us would have a lot in common, but I suspect there was more to her intentions. After spending the afternoon with this amazing human, I watched her navigate some tough questions that had been weighing on her shoulders lately. I’m grateful her mother knew us both so well, because it was my great privilege to share my heart with her daughter. And I can't wait to see the music she will create. The soundtrack of her life is well on its way of being a huge hit.
It’s funny how our paths cross some 35 years before we ever meet – proving my point that we are all connected in more ways than we can imagine. To meet Lili this way was such a nice reminder of how important it is to be nice to people; to accept them for who they are and who they choose to love; to be there for them with an open heart and an open mind, and to do so without fear, prejudice, or judgment. You never know when they might show up in your life again.