A little-known fact about me: I can play the guitar. But only in the Phoebe Buffay sense.
In college, surrounded by guitar players, I became interested and took lessons from my RUF campus minister off and on for about six months. The guitar my family owned was high action and difficult for me to play, so for my twenty-first birthday, my parents bought me a nice used Yamaha (pictured above) that I picked out at a pawn shop. While I enjoyed playing, I quickly realized that I would never measure up to my guitarist friends and acquaintances. (This mattered a lot at the time, since the assumed goal was to get good enough to lead worship or something.) Even with practice, my playing just wasn’t crisp or clean. I couldn’t keep my fingers out of the way of the other strings. I wasn’t serious enough to seriously learn the guitar unless it came easily to me, so I basically gave it up.
However, I kept my guitar, much to the confusion of a few who thought I ought to sell it. I still like it, and I like having it around. I’m still solid on five or six chords. I have some instinct about strum patterns. I know what to do with a capo. But knowledge isn’t ability, and my playing remains awful. Despite this, every so often, I get an urge to look up chords to a certain song and play and sing it purely for my own enjoyment. Or, if I’m feeling especially joyful, for a lucky loved one. (I once called my sister, set down the phone, and serenaded her with Beyonce’s “Halo.” When I picked up the phone again, she said, “What was that?!?”)
The difference between current-me and 21-year-old me is that I’m now content with my lack of talent. I used to believe there was no point in doing anything if it wasn’t as close to perfect as possible. Now I know that mediocrity is valuable if it makes you feel alive. I’ve written a lot so far about ways I’m failing to be fully alive, but this is one small way I’m succeeding. My guitar playing isn’t excellent. Expectations would ruin it for me. I don’t play to improve, try to impress anyone, or serve a higher purpose. It just puts a smile on my face… and I think it makes God smile too.
(This post is part of the monthly One Word 365 linkup at The Messy Middle.)
About Brenda W.Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
Posted in music, one word: alive