Letting “It” Go
As you already know, this issue is dedicated to guitar players. Not just the guitar players featured on the following pages, either. On the contrary, this issue is dedicated to all the guitarists out there, young or old, from novice to master. For in the process of putting this issue together, I was reminded of those somewhat intangible things that all guitar players share: the first time we picked up a guitar, and, trying to make something other than noise come out it, thinking, “I’ll never be able to figure this out” — but something drove us to keep trying; finally being able to play an F chord without unintentionally muting some of the strings; playing that first bar chord and then learning inversions; figuring out that first song by ear, which turns into a lifelong obsession; getting together with friends for the first time to jam. The list goes on. It’s like a secret handshake. It’s … well … magic. And it’s something we all share, from the kid taking lessons over at Fanny’s straight on through to Jimmy Page.
I’d be lying if I said I’d forgotten it, but those feelings had, to an extent, gone into hibernation within me. Having the incredible opportunity to just hang out with the guitarists in this issue awakened me from my slumber. I’m by no means special, or victimized by the circumstances of my life in this regard; it seems that more than a few of the musicians I’ve known have been through a similar experience.
No matter what your passion, life has a way of piling up garbage around it, of sucking the joy out of something that by its very nature should be joyous. This process happens so slowly and incrementally that it’s barely noticeable until, one day, the magic is gone. The preoccupation with finding it again makes it even worse — or at least it did for me. At some point along the way I decided to just let it go and see what happened. Again, I’ve had this conversation with a lot of musicians, and it seems to be a common thread.
Personally, I think it has to do with the self-limiting construct of what we think we are that allows all the garbage to pile up, and the reason it seems to pile up around the very thing we love the most is because we become so accustomed to self-identifying that way: “I am a musician” or “I am a doctor” — it doesn’t matter, because you’re not. At least not at the spiritual humanbeing level.
If music is like an ethereal river with no beginning or end, then we’re just a vessel into which some of that water is poured so that it can be shared with the temporal world while we walk upon it. And when it’s time for us to go the water returns to the river. We were never “it” and “it” was never us.
All of which is another way of saying that needing a reason to play makes about as much sense as needing a reason to breathe.