Friday, April 26, 2013

Music to someone's ears, I hope

I took up playing the guitar about three years ago at the age of 40. No, it was not a midlife crisis. And I did not expect this to propel me into a new career where I play at coffee houses with the hopes of being found by some record producer picking us his double, double decaf latte with chia sprinkles. I decided to do it because I always wanted to learn to play the guitar.

In fact, I started this quest when I was 16 years old. At that time, I was 3 years removed from playing the flute. I discovered that playing the flute would not get me girls and I did not expect another rising trend of rock bands with flute players like they had in the 70s. Nonethless, I got my first guitar from my parents. I was disappointed because it was a used acoustic guitar stored up in the attic, which probably did not see the light of day since the height of Joan Baez in the 60s. I tried playing and gave up in a month blaming my failures on the guitar. What do you expect from the mercurial mind and nanosecond patience of a teenager.

Now, 24 plus later, I decided to take another stab at it. This time I got lessons and have been playing for 3 years. And I love it. As frustrating the experience can be, especially playing an F bar chord (which should have three more letters w "ing" after it), I really find it peaceful and relaxing. There is almost this Zen like quality when you are playing a song that actually sounds like the original song. It grounds me and places me in the moment. There are many times where I will be playing and next thing I know it is two hours later.

Also, my kids play instruments, vioin for my daugther and drums for my son. Although when we play together it may sound like something from the deleted auditions from the X Factor, it is the coolest thing. We are creating art. It may be the musical version of finger painting art, but it is art itself. More importantly, it our art. It makes me realize there is a lot more to life than work. There are others things equally as important, such as playing with your own family garage band on a Saturday morning.

I do not know how many times I have heard someone say that "I wish I learned how to play . . ." Many times, they say to themselves that they will do it when they retire or when the kids are off to the college or when they have more time. The problem is that there is always a reason to delay or another excuse. If I waited to learn how to play the guitar until I retired, I would probably be too old to have the patience and the physical skills to play such an instrument. Now, when I retire, I expect to have been playing for 30 plus years and, may be, just may be, I will be relatively good where I could play at a coffee shop with or without the musica producer.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just Give!

We all do it. We especially do it around the holidays. We give. The experience of giving is pleasurable to all of us. Yet, giving seems to be a scheduled event like our pilates and yoga classes or lunch dates or getting the car inspected. For most of us, we do not randomly give. We wait for X-mas or Valentine's Day or a person's birthday. How about just giving out of the blue? Nothing scheduled and for no purpose. It seems to have a greater impact on the person and you more so than these regularly scheduled holiday giving fests. Perhaps it is the shock effect. It is out of the norm. It is like eating desert before dinner or having a hamburger for breakfast. I am not advocating either. Changing the norm sometimes is the jolt to get you out of that endless road of monotonity. You know, you get up, get out of bed, shower, brush teeth, eat breakfast (or skip it), go to work, work (or surf the internet), eat lunch (or steal it from the workplace fridge), work more (or take a nap), drive home, make dinner (or order out), watch tv and then go to sleep. You do this 5 days a week and maybe it is slightly different on the weekends. Ity is like you are stuck in this endless trench where you do the same thing day in and day out. Think of the movie "Groundhog Day." So change it just like Bill Murray. I am not talking about quiting your job and move to Bora Bora where you sell sea shells, find a new religion and hang out at the local bar where people know you as the crazy sea shell religious nut. I am talking about taking baby steps. The first one would be pick a person you know or random stanger and give them a gift. It can be anything, such as a gift card, money, a baked good, cup of coffee, or a card. You can give your time such as volunteering. A few times a year my wife decides to take the family to a retirement home where we bring baked goods. We go and just hand out with the people living there. The reaction is fantastic. They are so amazed that a family who they do not know decided to take time to visit them. Also, selfishly is makes me and my family feel good. So go ahead and do it and see how they react and how you feel. Please note that I do not take any responsibility if this backfires and you wind up in jail with a cellmate named Slash from the Worlocks biker gang. Barring that, for the most part, you will find it rewarding. I do.