It seems that I’m becoming more comfortable with embracing challenges these days. With that in mind, I’m embracing the A-to-Z Blogging challenge, by writing about the things that I most closely associate with being alive, when I show up and engage with life as fully as possible.
And with that, I give you:
If you ever feel the need to watch me go into full “geek out” mode, take me to a guitar shop. Better yet, put one in my arms and watch what happens. My palms start itching and my fingers cannot wait to start to start dancing over the strings. I don’t care that it’s made of wood, glue and steel, a guitar is a living, breathing soul to me. It has a voice and a temperament that’s unique to itself. It has stories to tell and songs to sing but only to the person who has the patience to coax them forth.
Personally, I’m an acoustic girl. While I admire an electric guitar virtuoso (Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen, BB King, Santana, Joe Satriani, Tony Cox, Slash, among others) as much as the next girl, it is the players who can draw honey from the body of an acoustic guitar that get my heart to pounding. Players like Dave Beegle and Phil Keaggy, Sharon Isbin, Kaki King, Rory Block – my music library is filled with such as these and don’t get me started on the singer-songwriter types. I’d be here all week.
I got my first guitar when I was about 13. I had always wanted to play the piano but that was more than just a little impractical for a military family to consider, and my parents thought a guitar might be a suitable substitute. I wish I could tell you I immediately fell in love with it and that’s all she wrote, but that would not be the truth. The Beast was a Sears Roebuck model with a neck so warped that not even the guitar teacher at the local YMCA could get an F chord to sound properly. I practiced so much, I literally bled on the fret board – you can still see the blood stains on the wood if you look closely enough. Yes, I kept the Beast. Even though it’s not good for anything, it was my first guitar and I just can’t bring myself to get rid of it.
It wasn’t until I bought a Fender acoustic from a colleague and learned what a difference a decent instrument could make that my passion for guitar took off. And oh boy, did it ever take off!
I won’t tell you how many I own – it’s a little embarrassing, to be honest. I don’t expect I’ll ever have occasion to play as I once did, but my hands just can’t resist reaching out to cradle those curves against my body, letting my left hand slide up and down the neck, letting my right hand coax out a melody. I don’t claim to be all that and a bag of chips. I can hold my own as a rhythm player but that’s not why I play. I play because I can’t help myself. I play because sometimes words fail. I play because I hear things like the Concierto de Aranjuez and my heart breaks open and is remade. I play because I hear something like Dave Beegle’s A Simple Prayer and know that sometimes prayer does not need words. I play because sometimes that’s the only language I understand. I play because I must.