A few years ago, my brother asked me if I would be interested in owning a second-hand acoustic guitar. The answer was an emphatic and resounding “Duh!” I’ve always wanted to be able to play the guitar since as far back as I’ve been interested in western pop music. It’s one of those quintessential instruments for people who love singing – nothing accompanies vocals quite as well as a guitar, and nothing looks quite as cool, either. A friend of my brother’s had left the guitar in his care, and either forgotten about it or didn’t want it back (I don’t remember the details), so when my brother asked if I was willing to take it off his hands, I accepted with open arms. What a splendid way to start on my guitar-learning journey, without actually spending money on the guitar itself!
In the four or five years since, I have made tremendous progress with the guitar. After years of disuse, when the strings finally snapped, I took it to a music shop and got it re-strung. When it started collecting dust from all that time sitting in the corner of my room, I bought it a nice cover. I carefully carted it around as I moved from house to house. Oh, I also managed to learn a couple of chords along the way, but that was purely incidental. Yup, five years into owning a guitar, and all I could do was haphazardly and clumsily play “Leaving on a Jet Plane” (a three-chord song) on it.
Looking back, I’m really not sure why I didn’t actually go out and start learning how to play the guitar the minute I had my hands on it. I’m sure “lack of time” was one of the excuses I threw around, which, legitimate as it may have seemed at the time, is not a problem that ever actually goes away. I may have also been trying to save money, because I did try and learn a few things from YouTube and the internet in general, but as I realised from those efforts, I need proper structure in order to be disciplined, and teaching myself things was never really going to work.
By the time it finally dawned on me that I needed a tutor and regular classes if I was ever going to learn anything, I had quit my job and didn’t have the money to indulge in leisure activities. (Or, at least, that’s what I told myself as I bought my third pair of shoes for the month.) And then I got a job and had the money, but still, the guitar lessons didn’t materialise. A dear friend, knowing my intentions of learning the guitar and knowing also that I had gotten nowhere with it, gifted me a kit containing a book and a DVD with which to learn the instrument from. It was a beautiful, thoughtful gesture, but in the absence of supervision, I didn’t get far with it.
Usually, when you procrastinate and put off something, it’s because you don’t want to do it. What I’ve learnt from my case is that it’s possible to procrastinate even when you DO want to do something, which is just absolutely insane, isn’t it?
A little more than a year ago, I put “learning to play the guitar” on my bucket list. I know that by calling it a “bucket list”, I’m not putting a definite timeline on it, which is risky and means that things may never actually pan out. Not this time. I’m going for my first guitar lesson on Sunday. Ten weeks from now, I will have completed a beginner’s course, and should be able to play more than I’ve ever been able to since laying hands on that guitar.
I’m taking that first step now, and even though it’s been a long time coming, I couldn’t be more excited about it.