2011/365/051: Zen Guitar (w/Dead vid: Ripple)

photo: rus vanwestervelt

I don’t know why this has taken me so long to realize, but part of building your confidence with any given activity or hobby is simply immersing yourself fully in its existence.

My Zen Friends will agree, adding that this is all about “becoming one” with the activity, hobby, or even object.

In the last few weeks, those two objects have been my bike and now my guitar.

Now, I’ve believed in this theory for the last 13 years or so, but for some reason, all the theorizing and spiritual grandstanding has been just that: a lot of belief and understanding with little real application in my own world.

I know–most of you are already living this way. You’ve been doing it for years–possibly your entire life–and you just never thought too much about it. I’ve been on the other end of the spectrum, overthinking the meta-part of zen living.

Maybe this is why I am enjoying these things in my life more than ever. I am making the investment to put my energy into them, as I prepare to take a bike ride or learn how to play a better guitar.

I guess in the past, the bike has always just seemed like a frame with two wheels, some gears, and handle bars to steer it this way or that. The same is true for the guitar (and Chris, if you are reading this, I am taking extremely good care of the Aria, pictured above). It’s always been some wood, six strings, and a few metal knobs. I’ve tried to make some music on it before, but there’s just always been something between us.

Now I know what that something is.

Call it birth order, personality trait, whatever. I don’t really care. I’ve lived most of my life asking for help, following a rather acquiescent style of living that has made me both submissive and distant from the things that I keep saying I want to do.

When Trina encouraged me to change the tires on my bike a few weeks ago, that was the beginning of the end of my submissive lifestyle. And now, after restringing my guitar this morning, I feel like I’ve taken another strong step in the right direction of finally being a musician.

Again–it sounds petty, probably. But becoming “one” with my bike and my guitar has really shifted my approach to living. When I begin my lessons on Tuesday, I have no interest in apologizing, acquiescing, or holding back from really doing what Jerry Garcia always did so well whenever he played: Be one with the music.

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music?
Would you hold it near, as it were your own?


It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they’re better left unsung
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air


Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow


Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of man

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go, no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone


Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow


You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone
If you should stand, then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way, I would take you home

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