I normally don’t care much for Christmas presents, but this year, yesterday, I got a guitar. And it meant everything to me because I had to leave my old one back in Vancouver–and it wasn’t even that I played it much back then, just occasionally jammed on it and wished I could play better. We didn’t ship much out here when we moved. My daughter Kris just gave me this excellent gift of music for Christmas, and I almost cried.
The woman who taught me guitar when I was young was actually the grandmother of actor Josh Swickard, who, with his wife, starred in A Country Christmas on Netflix. I was 13 back then, and she was extremely patient with me, but also I never got that great at the guitar, just good enough to play some chords for sing-a-longs. Her name was Sue Brown and she died last year, but was a neighbor and excellent musician.
Throughout the years I’ve realized how important music is to me. Luckily, even though my voice is not practiced now, I had an excellent upbringing and had the wonderful opportunity when younger to be trained by Robert Boyd, in Chicago–who was a music director at my high school. I was in the choir for four years and can still remember the huge Christmas concerts we had. The school opened up its many gyms and had all the choirs, bands, and orchestras performing as well as the huge audience (parents, friends). Each year we’d sing the usual whatever Christmas chorals and end up with Handel’s Messiah, which I still turn to every end of the year.
Anyway, I guess if you go back through this blog, you’d see the inspiration I’ve had from music, whether it’s just late night muses or listening to it while running. Playing/singing it is something I always dream of, but I realized tonight, not for the first time, as I played that guitar like crazy, hurting my fingers once again, that pain is needed in life to “get good” at anything. Running. Guitar. Singing. Whatever. Even writing.
Today, before and after talking with family, I practiced playing and singing–learning new chords. I concentrated on the songs “Hallelujah” (my favorite version is by Jeff Buckley), “The Ghost in You” by The Psychedelic Furs, and “Prince of Darkness” by the Indigo Girls–which my sister and I uused to jam to back in the 90s. I built a fire at 1:30 in the morning, even though it was only sort of cold (technically, Nova Scotia is warmer than Florida right now). Because we keep the temperature down so low, it was still so cold in the house and I just wanted that ambience around the beautiful inspiration I’ve been having lately.
Part of this is brought on by my ever-increasing need to run, and by my husband’s aunt, who is 75 and still a runner. She got hit by a car last month and is in a neck brace. She is extremely resourceful and continued her life best she could–despite being alone. She had to use her feet to do her laundry, for instance, because she couldn’t bend over. She walks to the store to get groceries, even with a neck brace. Granted, even before this, she was very active and I think on every birthday she runs her kilometers in years (i.e. 60 km on her 60th). This is really inspiring.
Part of it is brought on by my bewilderment of 2020, of being weirdly stalked for years, by not working after moving, by many things. By cults and unscientific leaders. By strange people denying truth, science, kindness, and decency.
Part of it is re-connecting with family and old friends and remembering that I love and I am loved. Also that I come from an amazing family who is funny, witty, and so talented. And who likes to stick together. We might need constant reminders of love in this messed-up world.
But also it’s been brought on by the missing of the pain that leg muscles feel when running. By the weird feeling of fingertips just starting to play the guitar again. By the rising above the pain that exists in life, that haters bring. I think this workout is needed in life, and maybe for a while, this past year, I was a little paralyzed by it all.
But no longer.
I’m coming out of it now, and it feels good.