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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Postponing Gratification

Spending any time thinking about how many hours I've devoted to my guitar is never wise. I'm better off just continuing to be purposeful, disciplined, and staying open to rare moments of transcendence.

There were perhaps two dozen people present as several of those moments occurred recently at my first post-Covid gig. I'm reasonably sure no one in that art gallery - except me - recognized my moments of fleeting musical rapture. That predictable circumstance did not diminish the experience at all. My solitary communion with the music I was creating - no matter how brief - was magical.  

As my second set began, I was back on more familiar ground - happy to be sharing music with others, proud of how my practicing and memorizing allow me to be flexible about what songs to play, pleased with my level of comfort. What single discipline has occupied the greatest percentage of your time? What lesson have you extracted from the hours you've spent practicing that discipline? I've learned many things via thousands of hours spent with the guitar. Today, being able to postpone gratification tops my list of the lessons I've extracted from more than a half century living with an instrument. 

6 comments:

  1. Good morning, Pat. I love this post. My guitar playing will never reach your level. And I'm fine with that since I'm having fun learning to play. And although I can somewhat (if that's not too much of a stretch) relate to playing guitar, I can more relate to the the questions at the end of your post with something else. I've obviously made my love for theater and acting very well known in previous responses. The feeling I get when I am first cast in a production, to the very first rehearsal and meeting the rest of the cast, to (as a director I've worked with and respect greatly has always said) 'the process', to dress rehearsals, to Tech Week, to Opening Night ... I can go on and on. The nervous excitement of knowing what you're working on, working towards, is sometimes overwhelming. And then the sadness and empty feeling when a play ends. You know it's coming. but it's worth it to be part of something. It has done so much in making me who I am. It's taught me so many lessons that I have used in my professional/business career and also in my personal life. Not sure if I would call that 'postponing gratification', since it all begins anew when I have the opportunity to be in a play. But the time in between plays - always longer than I would like - definitely increases the exuberance and makes the wait between shows very much worth it when I do start again.
    Be well,
    Bob

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    1. Bob; I'm not ashamed to say I've started to rely on your comprehensive comments. Your obvious passion for theater and all that goes into it has come across clearly in many of your past comments. It's a gift to feel that connected to something, isn't it? Postponement of gratification or otherwise.

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  2. This post resonated with me as well. I, like Bob, am not sure I would call it postponement of gratification. I can relate to the hours of practice even when I may not feel like it. I as you know, have a Nia practice and I also teach Nia. The two are inextricably linked. I practice for two reasons 1) just to practice and experience joy and 2) to prepare for classes. Some days I just go into my studio and start and then I am good to go. Just crossing that threshold turns things into action. If I don't do that it is a missed opportunity but I don't beat myself up about it. Isn't the old saying that you need 10.000 hours of practice to become proficient? I am not sure if I am there yet but would like to believe I am close:). Those moments of transcendence as you say make it all worth while.

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    1. Ines; Thanks for the comment. And, of course, your passion for Nia - as with Bob's for theater - has come across loud and clear in past comments you've made. As I said to Bob (above), aren't all three of us fortunate to have found what we have?

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  3. Pat, it's not at all an exaggeration to say that without the years of practicing and expanding on the guitar lessons I had with you I would never experience the sweetness of postponing the gratification of picking up my instrument and teasing something familiar and new out of it. Even now if I have to put off playing for a day or two, I can always conjure up your voice invoking some playing idea. "Pedal tones" is my favorite.

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    1. Steve; You are unfailingly gracious when speaking of the years we spent together when you were studying guitar. I will never be able to re-pay your kindness about what you say I brought to you via the guitar. It was an unmitigated joy to have you as a student. If only every student I ever taught were half as diligent as you.

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