Updated: Mar 17, 2020
There was always something about the amount of expressiveness in a guitar string that really got me. The fact that you could emulate the human voice, or create an entirely new sound was something that I became quickly intoxicated with.
I hadn't really ventured into learning the guitar until 6 years ago when I faced a bout of depression that crippled me heavily. In that time I had literally isolated myself from the world, as I did not feel safe in it anymore. I locked myself away for an entire summer, rarely saw the light of day and found refuge only in a guitar that had previously been retired. I played in a band in high school, and though I primarily played the piano, I gradually transitioned into using the guitar, as it was a much more easily transported instrument. I however did not know much more than the basic chord shapes.
During my summer of depression I spend upwards of 8 hours a day playing the guitar. I did not want to speak to anybody, but I had so much I wanted to say. Through the guitar, I felt as though I was able to communicate the pain I was harbouring in a way that still kept me sheltered from being vulnerable. It felt as though the guitar had allowed me the space and time to slowly heal and come out of my isolation gradually. It hurt to speak in those long months. I could barely get through a sentence without a breakdown becoming imminent. The guitar gave me a voice when I had none.
My relationship with the guitar has become interesting to say the least. It has become a passionate love-hate relationship that I keep returning to every day, quite like an addiction. My journey with learning the guitar has in many ways become a metaphor for my overall growth as a person. It teaches me patience, because I absolutely detest not being able to learn a song with ease. It teaches me that good things come with time, and that the process is as important, if not more, than the destination. I struggle with the guitar because often times I find myself "dreaming" about being good more than I actually spend becoming good. I feel a sense of intimidation every time I return to the instrument because I know I will not be as good as I am wanting to be that given day, and it is a humbling and often frustrating experience. I want the immediate gratification of being able to play like the greats right now, without the countless hours they must have put in to get there. I unfortunately did not play the guitar from a young age, and so I have so much further to go, and so many more neural connections to make if I want a chance of even having a fraction of the skill that the players I look up to have.
These are all good life lessons, because I find that I am quite impatient in my day-to-day affairs as well. My frustration at my slow guitar progress in many ways mirrors the way I am about my life in general. I want the things I want right when I want them and not a second later. It's an annoying part about myself that I'm trying to fix, and I do feel like in learning to accept where I'm at with my guitar skill level, I can also use that as a stepping stone to accept where I'm at in the greater parts of my life as well.
There wasn't really a clear, defined point to writing this except to just reflect on the impact that learning an instrument has played in my life. I think there is so much personal growth that you can have by challenging yourself with learning something new. Something that isn't easy, something that consistently provides you with a challenge, and that continuously pushes you out of your comfort zone. For me, that thing was the guitar, and for as long as I am able to keep growing as a guitarist, I hope I will keep growing as a person too.