Posts tagged autobiographical
Why I Play Guitar

Guitar was not my first choice of instruments. It wasn't even my second. But it became clear that it was the right choice for me.

It's pretty interesting how certain instruments speak to certain people. It can say a lot about you and your creative needs. I started playing music pretty young by learning some recorder in 1st grade and playing in the church bell choir. I got my first taste of formal music training by playing saxophone in 5th and 6th grade, which I enjoyed, but I quit once I realized I didn't really like my musical output being entirely at the whim of a school bandleader. That, and I had already memorized the Pink Panther theme. Next!

By that time I had known what I really wanted to play for at least a year: drums. They were the epitome of cool. You could bash things with sticks and make musical sounds. Drum fills excited me (still do). And there was something about a killer groove that made me feel some way I couldn't describe (but it felt great). But there was one issue: my parents weren't too keen on being subjected to the constant din of drum practice. Fair enough.

So drums were out. Fine. I figured I'd just play bass. Seemed like a pretty cool thing to play. It was rhythmic and helped keep the groove. It was basically the drums of the stringed instrument family (actually, piano is more of a combination of percussion and strings, but whatever). There was another problem, though: I was tiny for my age and didn't have freakishly, disproportionately-large hands, so bass was going to be a struggle. "Why don't you take guitar lessons for six months," my mom told me. "Then if you still want to play bass, you can switch."

Fine. I'll play guitar. Even though my sister took lessons and my brother plays and everyone in the world plays guitar and it's the obvious choice and I want to do something different but whatever it will be my path to something more interesting like bass or maybe even drums someday. Fine. Buy me a cheap, pawn shop acoustic that's barely playable and will turn my virgin fingertips purple. Fine!

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Lessons I Learned From Being Poor

I was very fortunate to have grown up in relative comfort as a kid. While my family wasn’t exactly wealthy, there was never a question of whether there would be food on the table or bills would be paid. I was encouraged not to live wastefully and to be smart with my money, but it was never a situation where we were conserving energy for fear that we wouldn’t be able to cover the electric bill.

Then I went to college.

Many of us get a pretty good dose of living the “poor college student” life, then graduate to join a workforce that pays a reasonable—if modest at first—salary and holds the promise of future growth and prosperity. But I didn’t do what most people do. I chose to pursue the artist’s life, one that all too often lives up to its “starving” cliche.

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Above the Clouds

One morning in high school, I woke up and looked out my window. It was gloomy; a thick, charcoal cloud blanketed the entire sky and light rain dive-bombed from above. On this particular day, I would be flying west to Colorado to go camping with my sister and her family. I was never a big fan of flying on days like this, but there was no use complaining about the inevitable. I groggily packed my things and shuffled out the door.

I sat in my airplane seat as it taxied to the runway and felt ambivalent. I was excited to go on a trip, but less than enthused about the flight that would precede it. It’s not that I was a nervous flyer…  I just didn’t feel like sitting in a cramped seat for five hours and breathe recycled air while snacking on stale pretzels. Waking up to dreariness had affected my demeanor accordingly.

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How to Stop a Recurring Dream

Years ago I started having a recurring dream. Not an exact scenario, but a theme that kept popping up. I would be driving, but when I hit my brakes they didn’t work. It’s not as though the brake lines were cut, but more like they didn’t totally finish the job. I would slam them down but only slow down without coming to a complete stop. It was as if I was driving on ice and I kept drifting even when my wheels weren’t moving, though there was no ice to be found. It was an unpleasant feeling and therefore an unpleasant dream. It happened every couple months or so, which was manageable even if it was annoying. 


A Sense of Urgency


But then it started happening more frequently. The dreams would come only a month apart, and then only a week. At one point I had this dream three times in a single week. It was starting to really stress me out, so I began reading up on theories about dreaming and recurring dreams.  This wasn’t unfamiliar territory for me, as I’ve had an interest in learning about dreams and lucid dreaming for years; but this was the first time in my life that I had experienced a recurring dream whose persistence began affecting my waking life, forcing me to take dream interpretation theories more seriously.

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