I don’t do well with New Year’s resolutions. I make plenty of them, because I know myself so well it’s obvious where and how I can improve myself. Like millions of others, I psych myself up in December and count down to January 1st. That day comes and… eh, I’ll wait until tomorrow. I want to enjoy my time off of work. Fast forward to the following December. The cycle repeats itself again, with nigh-eternal optimism and failure.
Something has changed in me though recently. Instead of just being aware of the ways in which I fall short, there’s an added touch of this thing called motivation. Seriously. I never had much of it before. I’m infamous (in my own head) for dreaming up tons of pet projects to invest my attention and focus in. I’ll begin, get some good momentum, then get distracted by the next shiny thing to draw my interest. Needless to say, I’m not a finisher.
In the middle of the 00’s, I stopped at a Guitar Center on the way back from a road trip. My travel buddy and I had occasionally brought up the idea of forming a band. I was going to sing, though I would need a guitar to write songs. He would do bass and backing vocals. It wasn’t a serious topic, but I’m impulsive. In that store I bought one of those beginner guitar packs with a Squier Stratocaster, a plastic gig back, and a small amp. The guitar was a righty. I’m a lefty. I figured I’d get over the weird unnatural orientation; after all, many famous and/or skilled players had done just that. Some weirdos even play lefty even though they’re righty.
I got home and proceeded to get invested. I bought books, extra gear like picks, extra strings, tools, a guitar stand AND a note stand. I actually had decent early success. One of the books I had was one of those Hal Leonard Learn-to-Play things and I could do a few simple birthday party songs that used 3 notes or less with each note played taking a full bar. I was a wunderkind, ya know? I learned how to change strings, do basic maintenance. I was on my path.
For the next decade and more, that Squier did nothing but look good on the stand and collect dust. That happens to me all the time with new hobbies I pick up. I have a manic episode where I’m going to completely hunker down and absorb myself in this thing. And in an instant, the motivation is gone. Just look at the hundreds of videogames I have bought on a whim and have yet to touch.
Maybe I had (another) midlife crisis. Maybe I couldn’t believe it was 2019. Maybe I wanted something creative to deal with emotional baggage. But something clicked in me in the few months before the new year.
The Time is Now. You don’t know when you are going to die, so do you really want to go to your grave not having accomplished the thing you’ve been inspired to do since you saw Joe Perry laying down that wicked solo in the “Amazing” music video.
It didn’t seem like false motivation this time. My young self and my current self were convalescing into this different individual. I owed it to my selves of every year. I had to do this. It feels akin to the desire to achieve enlightenment. It’s within your grasp and you know what you have to do.
My mission was clear. I immediately dove into the preparation and research. I compared prices and models online. What happened to that Squier, you say? Oh yeah, I should have mentioned that. My little brother asked if he could buy it off me. He along with everybody in my life knew it was only a discussion piece in my home. Thinking now, that must have been a key spark in igniting me to renew the goal.
I decided to give him the Squier as a Christmas present. I needed a lefty. If I was going to do this, I didn’t need to self-sabotage by fighting uphill with an unnatural orientation. I found an Ibanez GIO, all-black, for a reasonable price. While a cherry sunburst Les Paul is in my heart, I have to earn my way to that. I’m not talking monetarily. Should I fail again, it’s pathetic to have an expensive thing like that gathering dust. I bought the Ibanez a few weeks before Christmas but I wouldn’t let myself begin the process until Christmas Day. I like to do things like that to build up the anticipation for the holiday (or birthdays) like I was a kid again.
My learning path was set up as well. Not to disparage songbooks and private lessons, but there are more options in the late 2010’s (twenty-teens?). I’m choosing to alternate between fun practice with Rocksmith 2014 on my PS4 and get theory and foundational knowledge with the popular online guru JustinGuitar.
During a brief re-affair with the guitar a couple years ago, I had bought the very first edition of Rocksmith for the 360. I didn’t get very far. I was a wuss and the fact that I couldn’t play for very long without my finger tips hurting was enough to make me drop it. Not the fault of the game, it was all me.
But hey. Here we are. For real. I was practicing daily in January and the first half of February, then I trailed off. Lots of things going on in my personal life, not that that is an excuse not to maintain a daily practice schedule. I had the time.
I’m going to provide more background than this rambling post in future updates. What I need to do right now is stop writing and start playing.
Mark this date: March 17, 2019. It’s never too late to correct mistakes. Let’s get dangerous.