I’m retired. Did I mention that? Maybe I did… Anyway, now that I am officially ensconced in the “R” word, I find that I’ve got a bit of time on my hands… Okay. I’ve got a lot of time on my hands. And that’s a good thing; it really is. Among other things, time has afforded me the uniquely satisfying opportunity to educate, enlighten and entertain the largely unwashed masses through this scholarly, critically acclaimed, and artfully punctuated web log. Good, right?
Time is, after all, a whole-half of the space-time continuum. You know what that is, right? Good. So I don’t have to bore you with a longwinded, though carefully-worded-for-the-layman, extremely detailed and ridiculously complicated explanation. So… if you’ve got time, you’re at least halfway to understanding Einstein’s space-time theorem and all the silly, but necessary, I suppose, math that goes along with it. Right? Right.
Anyway, the point is… What was the point..? Oh, yes. The point is, actually, twofold: 1) Time is a genuinely favorable thing; and, 2) If you’re going to have time somewhere, it might as well be on your hands… You know: Where you can more conveniently do stuff with it. If you have time “on my side,” as Professor Jagger postulates… Well, I guess that’s okay, too. But look at all the time (there’s that word again!) you actually waste, getting that time from your side (or waist, or hip, or wherever) to the position at which it becomes most useful. Still with me? Good.
So, when one has time on one’s hands, one would be woefully remiss if one failed to do something constructive with said time. One of the things I decided to do with the abundance of time that I find on my hands is to use those hands to learn how to play the guitar. (On this point, Professor Jagger and I enthusiastically concur.) You know what I’ve discovered about learning how to play this guitar that my wife Jan gave me for Christmas? (She ordered it from Amazon and it came in a kit with a soft case, some picks, a digital tuner, a CD and a book entitled, Guitar Basics for Dummies. Do you think she was trying to tell me something?) Anyway, what I’ve discovered about learning how to play the guitar is that learning how to play the guitar is very, very difficult. I don’t know why I thought it would be easy, but it turns out that learning how to play the guitar is diametrically opposed to the concept of easy.
The first thing that’s difficult about learning how to play the guitar is that one has to utilize virtually every finger one has. While it is true that a few of the lesser fingers don’t figure all that prominently into guitar-playing, suffice it to say that, for the most part, fingers are more or less essential to learning how to play the guitar. The more you have, in other words, the better. The second thing that’s difficult about learning how to play the guitar is, ironically, also finger-related. After about 47 seconds of playing the guitar, the finger tips on one’s left hand (assuming, of course, that one is a right-handed guitar-picker) feel like they have been gnawed on, rather voraciously, by a pack of small, angry rodents. This tends to render playing the guitar beyond 47 seconds patently impossible.
Practice time during the first several weeks, as I’m sure you can see, is then limited to intervals of 47 seconds or less. Fortunately for the neophyte guitarist, after several millennia of 47-second practice sessions, the finger tips in question do tend to form protective callouses. The good news is that these protective callouses allow for longer practice sessions, and thus more rapid musical development. Unfortunately, and here’s the bad news: if one is a naturally left-handed nose-picker… Well, you can see how major difficulties might ensue, in this area of human behavior.
There are numerous and sundry additional difficulties in learning how to play the guitar; I will address some of these in future lectures. For now, though, my final point on this particular subject is simply the following: I had initially hoped that, after several weeks of trying to learn how to play the guitar, I might begin to demonstrate some innate ability, natural talent, or genetically predisposed mutation for elite-level guitar-playing. Sadly, I cannot, with any confidence, report such a finding. However, there may be some encouraging news on the scientific horizon…
On the CBS-TV program “Sunday Morning” (the Baby Boomers’ favorite reality show) recently, there was a segment on Nature vs. Nurture, and whether elite-level athletes might actually be “made,” rather than “born.” The segment also introduced the “10,000 Hour Rule,” first presented, I believe, in the book Learning from Wonderful Lives by Nick Baylis, which theorizes that it takes ten-thousand hours of diligent practice for someone to master any skill. At this point, I figure that I have logged approximately 30 hours of practice with my trusty axe, since Christmas morning, 2013. So if that time on my hands, is truly on my side, and I can manage to live another 83.4 years, well… Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?
In the immortal words of Professor Jagger’s esteemed colleague, Professor Willie Nelson: “If you’ve got the money, Honey, I’ve got the time.” True that.
Please join me next time, when I will explain the chemical composition of lint (that’s “Li” on one’s Periodic Table of the Elements, if one is scoring at home), and theorize why there is so much of it in the receptacle of one’s dryer, especially when one invariably discovers fewer socks in the completed load than one began the drying process with.