This post is going to be a bit mish-mashy, like it was concocted in some sort of compositional Crock Pot – a Mulligan Stew made of words. My Cajun peeps can think of it as a gumbo post, although my readers in Kentucky and West Virginia might be closer if they described it as more of a burgoo.
Anyway, the point is this post has no point. It’s basically the bastard result of my shallow need for attention copulating with my guilt over posting so infrequently. In other words, this post has serious personality issues, but they aren’t its fault.
Sessions with my new guitar student are going satisfactorily, though I have encountered a challenge that, while completely unforeseen, does not surprise me in the least. In fact, I wonder why I didn’t realize it sooner.
One of the notable things about J – after his mechanical expertise and strong work ethic – is the fact he is home-schooled. To my mind, there’s really nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as the parents are themselves educated and have at least a moderate level of teaching ability. J’s mother is a smart enough woman and her son is certainly no dummy. I won’t say the boy’s education has necessarily suffered for lacking the direction afforded by the public school system, but it has definitely taken a different path to reach its ends.
Last Saturday, a bunch of us were in my next door neighbor’s garage doing a little jamming. My neighbor D was on bass guitar and, during a lull, started laying down this somewhat funky 4/4 rhythm. The kid on drums soon joined him with a matching beat. Wanting to keep it simple, I played a basic four-bar I-IV-V-I progression that I figured J could easily mimic. He knew the chords in his sleep and the changes were slow and right on the beat.
After a half hour of trying to get J’s playing to match the rhythm of the bass and drums, it dawned on me that having not been assimilated by the Seattle Public School System, J never had to learn about ostinato patterns by singing “Ta-Ta-Ti-Ti-Ta.” (That isn’t to say his mother didn’t give her children any musical instruction; J’s little sister can sight-read sheet music and has mad piano skillz.)
So my lesson plans need a little retooling. 5×7 index cards need to be converted to flash cards. Well-known, ultra-simple songs with strong, definitive beats need to be chosen and ripped to mp3. Most importantly, I need to graciously accept the fact that I have no choice but to revisit Ta-Ta-Ti-Ti-Ta and all the mind-numbing monotony that entails. All the chord knowledge and shredding skill in the world isn’t worth diddly-squat if you can’t define a basic rhythm.
Karin reminded me this morning of one of my all-time favorite quotes:
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
Interesting little fact: Hollywood hottie Megan Fox has this particular quote tattooed down the right side of her torso. I like her.
I’ve been thinking a lot about something my therapist said to me recently. I was describing how certain people who know me well seem to be constantly pushing my buttons in attempts to piss me off. I cited several sensitive examples that were weighing heavily on my mind (one of them had caused me to yet again refuse to speak to my mother).
I told him, “Doc, there are just certain people who simply make me feel angry, frustrated and unhappy.”
He said, “Your emotions, as unconscious and autonomous as they are, are still yours and yours alone. No one can make you feel a certain way. Rather, you feel certain ways when you engage certain people.”
That might seem like he’s picking nits or even disguising false wisdom with fancy wordplay. But the more I think about it, the more I realize he’s right. It is, after all, up to each individual to ensure their own life has purpose. Gee, you’d think I’d have already gleaned such an utterly Existentialist idea by now, considering my love of Nietzsche.
“The important thing,” he continued, “is to determine why you feel certain emotions around certain people and then to look at repairing those things, if possible.”
“Can’t the reason simply be that certain people always try to upset me?”
“Perhaps, but not likely. Those actions you perceive as deliberate attacks are almost assuredly the exact opposite. Most people are far too preoccupied with their own struggles to spend time contriving ways to get at you.” He gave me a comforting smile. “We humans are selfish like that.”
“Yeah, I guess we are.”
Our hour was up, but he made sure to sum up in clear terms: “Your emotions are all very important, Kirk. They are not the enemy. Emotions helped mankind adapt to countless hardships over the course of millions of years and they continue to do their job to this day. Learn to take advantage of their function without being dissuaded by their many forms.”
Easier said than done, Doc.
I’ll end with this sweet little riddle I heard on Mythbusters the other night:
What is all red and smells like blue paint?
We’ll see if anyone gets it right in the comments. NO FAIR answering unless you figured out the answer on your own. If you’ve heard the joke before, you’re disqualified. I want to give peeps who haven’t heard it a chance to guess.