Two years ago, I bought myself a guitar. I’d chewed over the idea of learning to play for a couple of months and finally decided it would be a good hobby to pick up (as if hiking, target shooting, gardening, and painting weren’t enough).
You must understand that my parents encouraged us to get into music growing up. Their sudden enthusiasm coincided with my elder brother – 10 years my senior – receiving that annoying recorder boys were forced to play in high school. The same year, my other brothers and I were given a choice of instruments and had to decide which one to dedicate three afternoons a week to.
Perhaps my parents hoped to train the next Mozart or Jimi Hendrix. It seemed to me that, in a kind of auditory masochism, they were willing to suffer simultaneously through the shrill whistle of a wind instrument accompanied by equally as amateur-sounding keyboard and guitar wailing simply because we’d have to come home and practise.
Anyhow, I abandoned the keyboard some five years after picking it up. Learning to play the guitar would be my redemption.
Boy, did I stink in the beginning. I wouldn’t say I’m any good now, but I’ve memorised enough tunes to confidently play beside a campfire. That said, I’d like to share a handful of incredibly insightful takeaways from the two years I’ve been negotiating guitar strings. I hope you’ll find them as useful as I have:
You can have a life filled with firsts if you cultivate a curious spirit.
I’ve often heard parents remark that having a child is such a blessing because you get to experience certain facets of life again through their eyes. Taking the little one on their first beach trip or for their first haircut can be quite nostalgic because we assume all our ‘firsts’ are behind us.
Learn Mandarin or pick up rock climbing, and you’ll realise there’s a whole world of exciting experiences waiting to be discovered. I pity those who think their best days are behind them when there are new possibilities hiding behind every corner.
It was Jim Rohn who said, “Welcome all experiences. You never know which one is going to turn everything on.”
It’s not difficult; you’ve just never done it before.
Earlier this year, I was teaching myself the Free Fallin’ cover by Guns ‘n Roses. While the chords are easy enough to learn, the strumming rhythm is incredibly intricate. I was still berating myself even though I knew it would be challenging.
I’d make a mistake, and then another, and then another.
Instead of encouraging myself to keep going, I was angry with myself for not being perfect. Until it dawned on me that I was two days into learning a completely new song on an instrument that I was nowhere near proficient in. If we draw parallels to life, no one here really knows what they’re doing – we’re all just figuring it out. Even our parents were learning on the job.
You’re doing your best, and that should be enough.
It’s also worth remembering that we’re not meant to be experts at our hobbies. Our 9-5s require us to be competent and capable. What we do in our spare time to unwind can simply be for that purpose.
Passion can get you there, but commitment will keep you there.
We will all be bad at something we try for the first time. Even babies stumble and fall when learning to walk, but do you think that stops them?
Elon Musk is a polarising character, but we can all admit his commitment regarding SpaceX, welcoming failure because he appreciated there was always something to learn from it, was admirable. You, too, can overcome some of your greatest challenges by adopting a tenacious spirit.
Had I given up when my acoustic version of Simply The Best by Tina Turner didn’t sound like Noah Ried’s rendition on Schitt’s Creek, I wouldn’t have been able to play it at my parents’ 31st anniversary dinner four months later.
Passion pushed me to purchase the guitar. Commitment compelled me to practise for 45 minutes, three times a week.
Whether you want to inject renewed energy into your life or simply shift your perspective a little, I’d advise you to pick up a new hobby or develop a new skill. Buy a pair of knitting needles or join a cooking class. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll learn in the process.
What the world has been musing over the past week
Business in the front, party at the back
Tami Manis seems to know a little something about work-life balance. The 58-year-old Tennessee woman has recently set the world record for the longest female mullet, coming in at a hair-tossing 5 feet 8 inches.
A family celebration
An Ohio couple who already share a birthday welcomed their newborn twins on the exact same day.
That’s one way to take advantage of the carpooling lane. Police in Nebraska recently pulled a driver over for having a bull riding shotgun.
Mixology just got a tech injection
Barsys 360 can mix thousands of classic and inventive cocktails – but will set you back R9,050.