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Tonight, I played music…

I’ve owned a guitar ever since high school, when I fell in love with Led Zeppelin, with the idea of playing guitar, and worked my ass off to learn how to muddle through Stairway to Heaven. In high school I even took two semesters of classical guitar at the local community college, and learned how to arpeggiate with the best of them (them meaning beginning guitar students). Truth be told, I haven’t really played it with any sort of proficiency for 15 years, and mostly my acoustic and my electric are little more than decoration for the room they live in. The rubber on the stands they sit in is so old that it’s vulcanized and is breaking off. So much for the spirit of music.
What is true of the entire time that I have been involved in playing guitar, is that I always approached it from a technical angle, trying to learn to play songs I liked, trying to learn chords (though I never managed to get the musical theory into my head, so I can’t walk the fretboard with the ease that’s necessary for a true guitarist), but never did I become possessed by the music and played from the heart. Or at least, I don’t remember having done so — it’s been a while, maybe it was like that for me in the beginning.
Last night, late after all were in bed, after a casual drink or two, I picked up the acoustic sitting quietly in the library, waiting like a forgotten lover for the touch that says they’re still important, still wanted. I try to keep the guitar in tune, even if I don’t play it, and thankfully it still was. I casually started to strum the lovely beaten old friend in the three or four chords I still remember, and found myself entering into a new space with the guitar. I was moving between rhythms and chords in a conscious way, not conscious of the technical notes, but conscious of connecting the actions with the sounds I heard in my head. I was phrasing intentionally, and I was moving… with love. It was an emotional experience where I felt the rhythms and the music, and for once I finally get why people play music. I have been a singer in my past, and know the rapture of a well-performed choral piece, but for the first time I felt the joy of playing a stringed instrument. I am by no means a professional, nor can I repeat the sounds reliably that I make, but as a past-time I jazz it through and have a great time, and perhaps this is the hook I finally need to really learn to love to play. I know that whenever I pick up the guitar, my kids absolutely love it, and it’s fun for me as well. What isn’t fun is not knowing HOW to play, and I haven’t been motivated to learn.
Maybe now is the time.

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