I’ve been trying to learn guitar for years. I’d pick it up, learn for a stretch, get into it, stop making progress, forget about it, lose my callouses Rinse and repeat. When Covid hit, I had more time and decided to, once again, take another stab at learning the guitar. Fender made this easy by offering all of us shut-ins free lessons.
A few weeks in I was still at it, and decided I wanted to try and change the strings on my favorite guitar. I’d never done it by myself before, so I asked Olivia, my oldest daughter, if she wanted to do it with me. She’s getting older and, though still a couple of years away from college, I already see the writing on the wall and sometimes feel pre-wistful about her eventual departure. I may be Superman to the outside world, but my girls are my Kryptonite, so whenever I get a chance to spend time with them, I carpe that diem.
Anyway, she said sure, we sat down on the floor, pulled up a You Tube video, and got to the step-by-step work of replacing the strings.
Just me and her trying to figure it out. Laughing, talking…just being. It was simple and effortless and breathtakingly fulfilling in the way that only maybe a parent can understand. At one point we couldn’t loosen one of the bridge pins that hod the strings down. I tried to use a pin-puller tool, slipped, and put a pretty good ding in the top of my otherwise near-perfect Guild D50.
No, not a hole, but, well...Aaargh!
“It’s alright” I said, and we got back to the business of changing the strings. And talking and listening and learning and just just having great time together, me and my 16-year-old buddy.
Finally we finished, tuned up, gave each other a fist bump, eventually put it back in the case, and left.
A few day later Olivia asked me if I was going to get the ‘ding’ fixed. I shrugged “I don’t know” I said.
Later that night I pulled it out to play and ran my fingertip over that chip in the finish. But when I looked at it all I could see, and feel, and relive was a great, warm, fun time with my daughter.
Not a now-imperfect guitar. Not a ham-handed mistake that I regretted. Nope, that ding will remain forever, because every single time I think about it, or see it, a smile comes to my face.
I will never fix it.
As a brand copywriter and strategist, a lot of my time is spent shaping perception. One thing I’ve learned is that the meaning we assign to things is, in large part, more real than the objective thing in and of itself. Long story short, we have a choice about how we see the world. How we respond to everything that affects us. And how we feel.
We can choose to define something as good or the bad by what we associate with it. The meaning we choose means everything.
How we choose to see becomes our truth. Our truth becomes our Life. And our Life can be made better or worse, painful or joyful as a result.
When we remember this, even in these odd times, we realize we have all of the power to be happy or otherwise.
Every time I pull out my guitar, I see that chip in the finish. And I smile.