Just yesterday I asked Otto to reach across a bunch of boxes that sat on the floor of our bedroom waiting to be sorted, and to take down the 1920s Martin guitar that has become part of the wall decor. And that’s all it has been for many years. It’s hard to believe how long it has been since a guitar was like a second soul to me. It was often propped by my bed at night. Letting melodies flow from it was as easy for me as breathing.
Yesterday I held the guitar tentatively and let my fingers try to remember something. Anything! My right hand was happy to oblige, easily reproducing the finger picking patterns at which I used to be so proficient. No problem there. But ,oh, my left hand! I produced a number of jarring discords with it before something clicked in the automatic part of my brain and I heard a C chord then a D and F. I couldn’t get beyond these most basic chords, and then my aging fingers rebelled at the painful pressure of holding down the strings. When I turned my hands up to see the pads of my fingers, I found deep grooves which persisted for several minutes. And to think that I once had such calluses on those finger pads that I had almost been denied an exit visa from Brazil. An examination of my fingerprints had led an official to conclude that I must be a criminal who had filed off her fingerprints to conceal her record.
Guitar was my passion for several years. I wrote songs and Otto, who had taken up guitar at about the same time that I had, joined me in programs where we played and sang. Below is a picture of us in the 70’s with grandchildren Josie Smith and Byron Shock giving a performance of my songs. They had been written at the behest of the local Council of Churches for the Unicef Year of the Child.
I will tell another time about memorable performances, once over Bulgarian radio after the assassination of Salvador Allende in Chile. But the Sunday Scribbling prompt is about quitting, not about my love affair with the guitar.
I quit guitar just as I have quit every other temporary passion that has consumed me for a few short years. I’m not apologetic about it. I think it may be my attempt to cram many lifetimes into one. And I don’t quit because I’m tired of one activity but because the next leaves none of my leisure time free for the previous one. My children (for whom I never lost my passion!) are aware of this and tease me about it. Let’s see. Here are a few of my temporary but intensely practiced activities starting before most of you were born:
pianoThere are sporadic bursts of other enthusiasms. And lots of things I never quit, such as working for peace and social justice.
water-color landscapes (painting them)
humorous poetry (writing and being published)
science fiction stories (writing and being published)
guitar and song writing
crayon abstract drawings
singing in choruses
translation of Portuguese poetry into English (published)
novel (AI is a Three-toed Sloth)
polymer clay jewelry (Fimo)
And there are the things I’ve had to quit because of the physical changes of aging, such as the longs walks through all of my city, seeking little known paths and parks.
And what is my current enthusiasm? Blogging. Of course!
"Of Moons and Springs and Dragon Wings"