Monday, August 1, 2011

On My Birthday...

What an amazing month July was. The highlights were spending the 4th of July with amazing friends, teaching at guitar camp, and hosting my friends Eliot and Tyler and my sister Emily for almost a week. The celebration of my and Emily's birthdays this weekend with my family and friends was a lovely way to wrap up July. 

Over the past few weeks I've seen more and more how wonderfully (and strangely) surprising human nature can be. New revelations and old truths relearned have been collecting in my mind. Here are the ones that I've written down in order to remember better:

People do not have to be related by blood in order to be considered family.

Sometimes there is no apparent rhyme or reason for one person to become attached to another, but it happens anyway.

Just because a person can ignore their conscience doesn't mean that they should. 

The heart will bloom in a parched desert of affection, even without the nourishment of mutual love, for much longer than we think possible. 

Confidence can take you a long, long way.

Arrogance is confidence which has grown too big for its britches. 

If you can't speak honestly, keep your mouth shut. Try to speak kindly as much as possible also.

Just because you don't like something doesn't mean it's not true.

Sometimes people just need a compassionate friend to listen.

There's nothing more reassuring than a friend at your side who believes in you to give the extra boost of confidence needed to accomplish something difficult. 

Nature and music are two of the most powerful forces that can unite people together.

There is absolutely no need to be rude to anybody.

Even when people live far away from each other, they can still be close in heart.

Speak the truth, with love, as often as you can.

Everybody just wants to be spoken to in the Language of the Moon.

Anyway.... there we go. Life is full of interesting happenings. 

As August arrives, I begin planning for the upcoming autumn and winter months, with teaching lessons, ensemble, Bible study, music performances, and travel expeditions in the works. There are some exciting events in store for this year... but I'll write more about those as they come up.

There were so many happy moments this month. Most of them are too private to share, but one that I am joyful to announce is that I obtained a mandolin for my birthday! I was so elated that I ended up writing a story-poem about it. Here it is.

At guitar camp in the hundred degree heat
Paul carried his family's mandolin
to composition class along with his guitar.
I picked it up on a whim of the moment. 
It felt like magic.
The strings were the lower four of the guitar
upside down, so it meant thinking backwards,
like seeing star constellations from a universe 
the mirror opposite of our own.
I quickly learned
that you have to use a pick if you don't
want to destroy your nails.
For a brief half hour my mind 
was struck dumb by the way
the smooth notes flowed out of the beautiful instrument.

"I must get a mandolin someday."

Standing in the shop,
teenagers excitedly discussing swords and movies
around me, the world slowed to a standstill
as the mandolin for sale was placed on the counter.
Taking it into my hands
brought back the feel of magic.
But this one was different... it was strung
for a left-handed musician. The strings were
switched, pick-guard on the wrong side.
No wonder it was priced so low.
It has hung on the wall
for a long time, we were told.
Poor mandolin, nobody wanted you.
Still.... too much for me to pay.
With aching musician's heart
I gave it back.

"How can I possibly get a mandolin?"

Chris takes me back to the shop.
"It's my gift to you, dear.
Happy birthday."
Suddenly the mandolin is back in my arms.
It comes with a case too.
Walking in a dream, I choose three picks from a bin:
green, purple, and white.
The salesman jokingly says, "Don't forget us
when you're famous and all that."
I smile. No fame, please.
All I want is beautiful music.

"This is my mandolin now!"

During the drive to the music store
my fingers can't leave the instrument alone.
The body is shiny. The frets are small.
Its voice is shy, as if aware 
that nobody wanted it 
for so long. 
The repairman tells me that it will take
several days 
to make minor changes. Then 
it will be right-handed again.
Just a waiting game now...
playing with the picks, learning the notes
in my head, envisioning 
melody lines and chord voicings
across the fretboard.
Not long until the music
is back in my hands.

"Just waiting for my mandolin..."

Today is my birthday. I want one of the themes for my new year to be "living and loving, while waiting and hoping". Too often people spend their time wishing for things to be different instead of enjoying who and where they currently are in their lives. Or they only focus on living in the moment, neglecting future thoughts, and hindering their possible options later on down the road. It is possible to live my life joyfully, loving those I am with and loving everything I do, while at the same time waiting patiently for difficult or trying circumstances to change and hoping to become a better person every day.