Playing the Guitar


I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this, but I am taking guitar lessons.

I’ve always wanted to play the guitar. Actually, I’ve always wanted to play like Billy McLaughlin. But he’s been playing for more than half my life, so I probably don’t have enough years left.

Still, I wanted to play, and specifically to learn fingerstyle.

Last year, when we were homeschooling, The Animator said he wanted to take guitar, so I found him a teacher.

I sat in on the first lesson, and yearned for it. When we took him to the store to buy a three-quarter size guitar, I told myself I’d just look to see how much a full size one costs.

Yeah, the rest is obvious.

So I’ve now been taking lessons for a year. And all this time, I’ve been picking melodies one note at a time and strumming chords, patiently waiting for the day I could start fingerstyle.

Last Thursday, I got the go-ahead. Woot! As I drove away from my lesson, I was mentally writing a blog post about it being such a historic day. A post I never actually got written.

Fast forward one week. Today was one of those lessons. I had to go in and announce, “I haven’t practiced.”

Last week, I went home and practiced that evening, thrilled to be finally fingerstyling and surprised at how easy it felt. I practiced again the next morning …. And then never picked up the guitar again.

It’s been a rough week. Heck, it’s been a rough month. There are some extremely painful things happening in my family of origin. It’s more my sister’s tragedy than mine, but I’m afraid it’s going to split the family in two. And I’m heartbroken for my sister, and the relationships I’ve already lost.

Plus, for me, it’s too soon. I’d barely begun healing from the traumas of the past few years. The world still feels very unsafe, and I haven’t had time to build up emotional reserves again.

So once again I’m fighting depression and agoraphobia. It’s all I can do to get out of bed and get the kids to school. Showering feels like an enormous task. I’ve barely left the house since Saturday, and I’m struggling to even answer texts and emails.

I wanted to skip my lesson. I told myself I could say I’m not feeling well (certainly true) or that I have kids home sick (close enough: today was The Animator’s first day back, and Girly Girl is home because it’s finals week and she didn’t have a final today).

But I didn’t. Partly because it wouldn’t be honest even if it’s “true”, and honesty is my highest value. Partly because it felt disrespectful to my teacher, who I think the world of. Partly because it felt disrespectful to myself and my sincere love of the instrument.

And partly because the one other time I didn’t practice and told the teacher I almost canceled, he assured me it was always better to come. I definitely wouldn’t practice if I skipped the lesson, he said. And he assured me it wasn’t a waste of anybody’s time to have the lesson anyway because it would help get me back on track.

So I went. But when I picked up the guitar to play, I started to cry instead. I told him a very short version of what was happening, and he spoke a lot of wisdom (I could recognize it as wisdom because it confirmed what I already believe — *smile*).

He said one has to take care of oneself, even if it means letting go of loved ones. He said nobody ever wants to hear the truth, that people would prefer to pretend everyone believes the pretty mask. He said if you point out an injustice, you’ll find yourself friendless. He said silence makes one complicit.

Then, in the five minutes or so we had left, we made music.

I left the lesson feeling like the world had settled on its axis. It’s not “all good” by any stretch, but it’s good enough.

My kids are happy and mostly healthy. I have a strong marriage, to a good man I love, respect, and admire. I have music.

It’s good enough.


2 Responses to “Playing the Guitar”

  1. serendipityherbals Says:

    Very raw and truthful, thank you for sharing. I’m glad you made it to your music lesson, and a reminder how, sometimes, angels appear in all disguises in moments of need…because I always forget that happens until it does.🙂

  2. Jim Says:

    Music calms the savage breast. Glad you went. Love to all!

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