Be The Guitar Player You Wish To Be
How Getting Better At Guitar, Having More Self Respect,
And Creating A Better Society Are Kinda The Same Thing
“…who is not busy being born is busy dying.”–Bob Dylan
You and I are on a journey through time–and we are a little bit of a different person at each stage of the journey, at the end of each year, week and day.
It’s not just physical transformations (according to the BrainStuff podcast we grow an entirely new skin every 2-4 weeks, and even completely replace our bones every 10 years or so). No matter what parameter we look at–physical, emotional or intellectual, we won’t be the same person living the same life by the end of the day!
One change goes in just one direction–time. At the end of the day, we’ll (hopefully) be a day older! That’s non negotiable…and that happens to us all.
But in every other respect, we also change.
For example, I love playing guitar! And at the end of today, I’ll either be a little bit of a better guitar player, or I’ll be a little bit worse. I don’t have the option to stay the same, any more than a tree can decide to not grow, or a stream can decide not to flow.
This reality is famously expressed in a quote beloved by generations of great musicians:
“If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.”
–first attributed to composer Franz Liszt in 1894.
That is why, to be a guitar player, you must play guitar! That act, the being and self-creation of playing guitar, is what makes you a guitar player!
This concept applies to everything. Nothing will remain the same at the end of this day! Not you. Not your situation. And not our world.
- Kindness: You will be a kinder person at the end of this day, week or year–or you will be less kind.
- Guitar: You will be a better guitar player at the end of this day, week or year–or you will be worse.
- Self-respect: You will respect yourself more at the end of this day, week or year–or you will respect yourself less.
- Personal Finance: You will have more financial security and flexibility at the end of this day, week or year–or you will have less.
- Your Relationships: You will be more connected to your spouse, child or friend at the end of this day, week or year–or you will be less connected.
Some elements of change are beyond our control, like the passage of time, earthquakes and the actions of others–but change is inevitable. And there is only one way for us to direct that change–it is to take action.
- To be a better guitar player play guitar.
- To be kinder be kind.
- To respect yourself more do what allows you to respect yourself.
- To have financial flexibility do what gives you more financial flexibility.
- To be more connected to your loved one connect with them.
When we take action, we change ourselves.
And not only ourselves.
What about your family, workplace, neighborhood and nation? How well are they matching your ideals?
Even though there is so much beyond our control, the actual factis that the world will be affected by us at the end of each day; an incredibly accurate scale would show that the world either matches our ideals a tiny bit more because of us at the end of the day, or it matches our ideals a little less because of us.
Mahatma Gandhi expressed this idea in 1913, writing:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.”–Gandhi
In 1972, Brooklyn teacher and author of The Love Project Arleen Lorrance pithily encapsulated this idea by saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” And I’ll leave you with my slight edit and addition, applicable to music and life alike for you and for me:
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Be the change you wish to see in yourself.
Personally, I’d like to be a better guitar player and a more loving dad. So my plan for tonight is to appreciate my kids and play some guitar. How about you?
On To Greatness,
Founder, NYC Guitar School
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