Strung Along By My Guitar


Hanging with my guitar and Chelsea's grandma.

Hanging with my guitar and Chelsea’s grandma.

Do you have an unused possession you love that is tied to past memories and identity? An old cracked baseball glove. An instrument from high school band. Your old Magic: The Gathering playing cards (I know you still have them!). Don’t worry, I won’t bring up the threadbare-yet-awesome T-shirt from long ago…because those are rad!

I find that even as my attention and discipline for music has waxed and waned over the years, I still keep an instrument in my life. I’ve played four (violin, cello, trumpet and guitar) and the latter remains the last man standing. And of course I brought it on this trip. After all, who doesn’t strum a guitar by a campfire on a road trip? Does it even count as a road trip if you don’t play “Fly Like An Eagle” to the beat of a crackling fire?

I sure hope so, because for the last seven months, I’ve moved my guitar from the van’s front seat onto our bed every single morning, and then back to the seat at night. That’s about 200 times. Grand total sessions on said beast: FIVE. Count-on-one-hand lameness, right? It has actually become a joke for us: Dakota the Minimalist and his space-gobbling buddy. The guitar has been a better workout for my upper body than for my fingers or musical side!

I’ve never written my own music, which means I’m always playing songs by Pink Floyd or other famous artists. There’s certainly a creative aspect to it, and covering iconic songs is a great way to practice. At times, it has been fantastic. (Though I think my college roommates just about chopped the strings off my guitar while I was learning the ultra-classic “Stairway to Heaven.”) Lately though, I’ve found covering songs uninspiring, a reworking of already-molded clay in a way that isn’t my own creation.

That’s why I’m writing with my spare time and creative energy. Staring at a blank page – cursor blinking, mind whirring – has proven to be so satisfying for me relative to other creative pursuits. With a written piece, I’m creating something entirely creative by conjuring sentences in a mix never used before. There is something so cool about that. Photography lacks the creativity for me, since even a photo can be similar to others. Take for instance, the below shot of Delicate Arch, which 12 other people took at the same time as me! It’s still beautiful, for sure, yet not one-of-a-kind.

The iconic desert shape, Delicate Arch, in Arches National Park. Sunset with rays moving up the valley.

The iconic desert shape, Delicate Arch, in Arches National Park. Sunset with rays moving up the valley.

My guitar, I’m sad (glad!) to say, will soon be dropped off at our next waypoint. There simply isn’t space in the van, or my life, for my old 6-stringed friend. And while there’s a loss of a small part of my identity, sometime in the future I’ll unzip the case, dust off the glassy front, and strum away. For now, it’s a small exercise in letting go of the past and seizing the future to open the door for fresh aspirations and focused creativity. And that seems like a worthwhile goal for anything in our lives that is stagnant – bring in the fresh, shred the old, and keep growing. We can always pick up whatever discarded remnant of our past we enjoyed and restart, yet sometimes a break is the answer.


P.S. I’m trying a new email list manager, MailChimp. Please let me know if formatting is weird, terrible or awesome! Captions on pictures appear to be the same font as the rest of the writing, which is strange. Working on that!

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