Just Be Glad You Can’t Taste It

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.”
–Friedrich Nietzsche

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.


About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
This entry was posted in Can I Say Something?, Guitar and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Just Be Glad You Can’t Taste It

  1. I-Luv-Eeyore says:

    You would be shocked and appalled to learn that I belonged to the band in high school. Me, can't carry a tune in a bucket, can't sight read and can not ever find the real beat to the music….I always seem to hone in on the secondary beat…thus clapping or finger snapping at all the wrong times. I look like a….well never mind that….when at a concert and I attempt to 'rock along' with the band. Was in the school band for two years and never,,,,I repeat never…was taught how to sight read. Jordan has picked sight reading up and can figure out how to play most songs he decides he likes. I just know that he did not get his music abilities from his mom. You know, the woman that sang to him as she rocked him to sleep—oh, and she sang "The Ants Go Marching" ad-naseum.Oh, and uhm …..Red paint.

  2. Snowy says:

    “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.”You may be interested in the post I did on this some time ago, Kirk, particularly the video, and reposted last week. And I would never have guessed red paint.

  3. Kirk says:

    I read somewhere that if you want to look like a super smooth dancer, try dancing on the secondary beat (that is to say, bounce on the 2 and 4, as opposed to the 1 and 3). So, maybe you didn't look as bad as you think rocking along with the band. :)Oh, and uhm… you have a rather logical mind that isn't easily tricked.

  4. Kirk says:

    Good to see you, Snowy! 😀 I wanted to tell you how much I liked the comparative illustration you posted a couple days ago. Saw it this morning and clapped.The post you linked is wonderful. Not surprisingly, my doctor is constantly referring back to history. During my very first session with him, he diagnosed me and then went on to explain that while contemporary society would call what I have a "disorder," the very fact that my condition is so prevalent probably indicates that it is no disorder at all. Having not been selected out of the gene pool, aspects of my supposed disability must have been quite useful to have lasted as humans evolved.To bring it all around to the philosophical bent of this discussion, I'd mention how my mom would like me to believe some omnipotent being saddled me with a character trait he knew others would see as a flaw and be perturbed by. Moreover, he did this because he wanted me to grow from the challenges presented by my particular personality. How this sort of explanation is supposed to make me love god is lost on me, I'm afraid. I like the evolution explanation much better. I'd rather see myself as nature's victory than as god's failure.

  5. YGRS says:

    red. paint.whaddya know…Good stuff! Interesting post even though you consider it pointless. Kind of like life itself.good seeing you, as always Kirk.(((((hugs)))))

  6. Kirk says:

    "…even though you consider it pointless…" Yeah, maybe "pointless" wasn't the right word. I should probably have said "directionless" or "unstructured" or, better yet, "all over the damn place". 😉

  7. YGRS says:

    "unstructured" "all over the damn place"Life is like that too!

  8. Red Mosquito says:

    I remember ta-ta-ti-ti-ta from school. Although it didn't do enough for me, i'm terrible at keeping time. I think that's why my guitar learning failing, that and I didn't have you as my teacher. On another note, Guitar Hero for iPhone ROCKS! Your Doc is right, you control how you feel, not someone else. It took therapy for me to learn that, too.

  9. Laurie says:

    "Learn to take advantage of their function without being dissuaded by their many forms."
    I like what your therapist said. I'm gonna remember that.

  10. Xeyli says:

    … is this some Washington style of teaching music rhythm? I have no clue what "ta-ta-ti-ti-ta" is. Or maybe I'm just not hearing it correctly in my head?

  11. Lurkertype says:

    Not to contradict the doc, but SOMETIMES, once in a while, they DO do it to piss you off. Not as much as we think, but on occasion.Love to Deej — that's not too complicated!

  12. CrowSeer says:

    The Buddha book I'm reading at the moment has touched on this idea… that we should be able to observe ourselves getting annoyed by someone (or something), and somehow be able to detach ourselves from that annoyance (whether deliberate or not), to remain all calm and serene and centered. Easier said than done, of course. Presumably it takes a lot of practice and meditation, and such. But, I guess, accepting that such a detachment is possible is the first step to making it possible… right?

  13. Kirk says:

    "…that and I didn't have you as my teacher…" You are too kind. :)"Your Doc is right, you control how you feel, not someone else. It took
    therapy for me to learn that, too."And it's not like it's entirely intuitive, because we tend to want to blame someone else for everything.

  14. Kirk says:

    "… is this some Washington style of teaching music rhythm?" It's not just Washington. Maybe it's just a mainland thing. 😉

  15. Kirk says:

    I agree with you, LT. There are undoubtedly a few people in my life who fall into that category. Even so, my doctor's solution would remain the same: learn the why of the matter and fix that.

  16. Kirk says:

    "…accepting that such a detachment is possible is the first step to making it possible… right" Exactly right. Not to sound like Nietzsche, but I know detachment of that nature has been achieved by some. That can't be said for every known method of self-control out there. I choose to follow a path I can see over one I cannot, regardless of whatever treacherous ground is visible ahead of me.

  17. CrowSeer says:

    Well, the book is coming from the angle of Buddhism as a psychological technique or process, rather than as a religion, which is quite interesting… but I haven't got to the chapters with the practical steps to back up the theory yet!

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