Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0281 - Simply Music

Music is a gift. I don't mean listening to music, although many would agree that doing so is indeed a gift. I mean making music.

I am no great musician, but one of the casualties of my battle with cancer has been my playing fingerstyle guitar. Part of why I couldn't play was simply physical. I didn't have the energy or I couldn't stand the weight of the guitar across my shoulders or the pressure across my abdomen. Part was psychological. Playing the guitar or making music in general was part of leisure, something which seemed truly extravagant when dealing with life and death issues.

Tonight, I picked up the guitar again and picked a few tunes, mostly John Denver selections and transcriptions from Fingerstyle Guitar magazine. I am so rusty that it seems like someone else used to play the guitar, not me. But after a few minutes, I found myself at least recognizing the tunes and the body memory of my fingers beginning to acknowledge familiarity with the technique.

For me, it was beautiful. For others, I don't know. But the sound touched me deeply, despite whatever failures I have as a musician.

Making music may be therapeutic. It can also be incredibly frustrating, but usually that happens when I begin to imagine what other people would think of my playing, about what other musicians might do with the material, about what really good fingerstyle guitarists could do with the piece of music in front of me. When I forget thinking and simply make music, the exercise most definitely is therapeutic.

But that's not why I do it. I do it simply. I do it for itself. I do it because it begs doing. So, why haven't I been making music? Because sometimes I can be stupid and self-conscious. In the future, I will attempt to forget myself and let it happen.

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