Always A Beginner
So, I just bought this used guitar off a dude on craigslist. This isn’t the first guitar I’ve bought off CL and it’s likely not to be the last, either. For guitar geeks, it’s a black Ovation six string EA.
Now, here’s the deal: I’m really not a very good guitar player. That’s not just me being modest; guitar enthusiasts will tell you the same. I am, however, the guy you want to hang out with around a campfire. I can play rhythm on about every pop, rock, folk, country and R&B song ever recorded. But truly being a technical whiz like Joe Satriani or Kellor Williams or Stevve Vai? Nah, not me. I’m just a folkie playing for sing alongs.
So, while we’re doing this year in NYC, I wanted to have a musical outlet. I figured as much as I’d be studying, I’d need a release time where I can banng out some Springsteen on an acoustic. Hopped on CL, found a guy selling a guitar and amp and they’re both now resting comfortably by my couch.
Changing gears:Today is my first day of grad school. Around 3:30 today, I’ll throw on a jacket, grab my laptop and backpack and be a college student again for the first time in nearly a dozen years. Kinda scared, kinda nervous, mostly excited.
Because the narrative med program I’m in at Columbia University is so intimate, we’ve been provided a doc with the bios and profiles of our fellow classmates. One really struck me. Nahh, not the person so much, but the last statement in his profile:
I see the importance of always being a beginner and am committed to always beginning.”
When I first read this, my gut reaction was, “Well, duh! When you think of the grand scheme of life and what we can possibly know, we’re all newbies.”
Yet, this fellow classmate seems rather proud of being a novice. That’s where I felt our opinions devviated.
Back to the guitar. I learned everything I know on guitar back in the late 90s. About once per year, I’ll learn a new chord, but really, I play guitar much as I did when I had only a few months of guitar under my belt. Really, I’m still a beginner. I don’t want to be; I’d love to be able to shred like Eddie Van Halen, but I’ve just not devoted the time, energy and patience it takes to do so.I’m still a beginner, but a beginner with enough experience to accomplish what I want.
So, when I started thinking about my classmate’s statement, he/she has every right to bbe proud of being a beginner. We cannnot know everything. Life is simply too short. Even academics who devote their lives to a singular focus will readily admit they cannot know all there is to know about that area of study. Life is short and we barely have a chance to scratch the edge of the plane of knowledge.
But, we try! I think we all try to improve ourselvves, even if we remain beginners. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this, I wouldn’t be writing it and we’d all be less than beginners. We’d just be uncaring and sedentary.
As I start this first day of the rest of my life, I’m committed to embrace the idea of being a beginner. Proudly. That makes me someone always on the cusp of learning and evolving into someone and something better.