Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pushing through the pain

This evening a small gathering of friends was treated to a classical guitar recital from two accomplished musicians.

It was delightful. From Paul Simon to Django Reinhardt to Bach, these guys sparked musical energy off each other and whetted our appetite for more.

A couple of years ago - on a whim - I purchased John Williams' CD El Diablo suelto (loosely translated - 'the devil is free'). It's an album jam-packed with twenty-eight tasty Venezuelan morsels. The more I've listened to it, the more I've loved it, appreciating its complexity and attention to detail.

Many moons ago I took up lessons in classical guitar, but it has sadly amounted (eighteen years later) to about 12 chords and one expensive guitar.

It was tiresome, and frankly, quite boring. As a fifteen-year-old I could see no translation between Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana and having to sit in a pooncy, uncomfortable way with a nylon-stringed guitar covering my teenaged groin.

As I sat there this evening, wowed by the talent of these men and blessed by their music, I couldn't help thinking that maybe it would have all been worth it.

Maybe it would have been worth pushing through the uncomfortableness, and the poonciness, and the endless scales, and daggy tunes. I mean, there must have been a time when Django could only play Smoke on the Water (or its equivalent - whatever that was in 1930).

I guess the reality is: no one gets much good at anything without practice and without pain. And you can't build a monument on a pile of flimsy nothing. There is no guitarist that thrills and delights others without a lot of personal discipline, boring scales, and pain.

And how grateful I am that these guys were willing to weather what I was not. Grateful - and blessed.

Love this guy too, by the way. Sure, he looks like the local imam, but his playing is a kind of funky fusion of Tommy Emmanuel and Michael Hedges (and there was a stunning talent taken away too soon).

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