I haven’t been writing lately; been too busy living. Sometimes I find myself stuck online, in this parallel world of data, and other times I find it nearly impossible to check email. Recently, it has been one of the “nearly impossible” times. Thanks for your patience; here is an update…
A few weeks ago, I began learning to play the guitar. I know, classic impulse to try something new when you realize that you’ve lived longer than you realized, and want to be sure to cram as much into the rest of your time as possible, right? Yet, I’ve wanted to learn to play since I was a kid. My father plays the guitar, and while he didn’t play often, he was almost sort of human on the rare occasions when he did. He tolerated my presence when he was playing, which was as close to an invitation as one ever gets from him, and it was fun – despite his shockingly awful musical taste. (I am embarrassed to admit that I know the full catalogs of such musical geniuses as Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, and Simon & Garfunkel.) Of course, he always ignored my requests to teach me how to play, and frequently chastised my singing along, and eventually I moved out and on… My relationship with him has ended, but I still want to play the damn guitar, so I resolved to take lessons. I assumed that enough time had passed and my motives were selfish enough (and my taste sufficiently different: Pink Floyd, Metallica, Rush) — surely this would be fun and interesting, and nothing else. I could not have been more naive.
It requires a minimum of an hour of serious self-pep-talking to persuade myself to just pick the instrument up. Once I begin, after a few minutes, I seem to recollect myself, and my guitar and I get along famously — but the beginning part is mired in the aches and sorrow of that neglected child I suppose part of me still is…
Some wounds never heal. We simply get used to the pain. The sight of a plain six-string acoustic guitar still blurs with longing, and when I pick it up, I have to remind myself that it is not to hand it off to another, but to keep for myself. The tones of tuning still sound like hope, and it takes me a moment to feel justified in trying to play a note or two. If I push onward, however, it becomes fascinating. The guitar is like a new lover, full of glorious places to touch and beautiful sounds to evoke. I am confident my father saw only an object to be played, not a co-conspirator in storytelling. I find this information satisfying, this understanding of the limits of his view very gratifying. I feel smug, and better than. I feel superior. I also find that if I don’t think about anything too closely, the guitar makes perfect sense to me. If I think about what I’m doing, I muck it all up, but if I can refrain… Well. And then it occurs to me that I ought to try to not think of myself as “better than” anyone else, and the guilt begins to cascade.
Cascading guilt effectively ends a jam session.
Here, in this musical space, I reacquaint myself with my younger, less jaded and more optimistic self. My older mind tries to comfort my younger heart, and they begin to try to keep time together.
Often, I wonder why I couldn’t have picked up the tambourine or triangle, for Pete’s Sake. But, going easy on myself would be out of character, and I abhor such inconsistencies in personal integrity. Ken, the man with whom I work to gain better control over my PTSD symptoms, finds this guitar playing / musical interlude episode compelling and perhaps absurdly ambitious; perhaps he is right. Then again, I never do anything as well as I do the things I have been told I could not do.
If that equation holds true, I ought to become a stellar guitar player. Once I can practice.
- Me, Myself, & My Guitar (theflexecutive.wordpress.com)