I think it’s only fair to admit truths to oneself.
For instance, as much as it pains me to say, and as hard as I’ve tried to prove it otherwise, I am not very good at playing the guitar. In fact, I’m awful.
I’ll be honest.
I’ve given it a go a number of tries; both by self-teaching and once with a class in college. And I’ve watched more Youtube videos, studied more books, and created more calluses than I can count. But for some reason the instrument just doesn’t musically connect with me. I can hear it like crystal; I can hear the sound it should make, and I understand the mechanical gist of it. But when I try to put those truths into practice, it’s like my ears instantly become tone-deaf and my fingers turn to jelly.
Beyond my helpless inabilities, I don’t know why the guitar hates me so much. It’s like unrequited love; the sound is so nice, the body so beautiful, and the ability to manipulate its strings so appealing. On top of that, it’s an instrument that connects the world. Yet the guitar hates me.
Even if, for example, I follow someone else’s simplest strumming pattern precisely, my echo always comes out like a souffle-gone-wrong: floppy and miserable.
It’s not like I’m a complete musical train-wreck. I can play piano well enough, I use to be able to play the flute decent, and I’ve dabbled in violin and harmonica. But guitar is by far the most frustratingly impossible instrument there is. Period.
And yet, I still so desperately want to be able to hammer a simple tune when the night is right and the silence is comfortable, like the wild woman I wish to be.
Woe is me.
So the question is: do I admit the truth and move on, perhaps to an instrument more suited for my musical inabilities, or do I plunder on and hurt my neighbors’ ears for an eternity?
After all, some things are just not meant for some people and I can take pride in my other strengths. But then again. I’m apparently quite stubborn; so I’m told.
Sometimes when I think I see something from the corner of my eye;
And deep down I’m pretty sure that it is real;
I pretend that it was nothing, nothing at all,
Because it’s easier to think that
Than it is to think it might have been a spider.
Do you ever wonder what it’d be like to talk to your past-self? What would you say?
If I could converse with my college-self, we’d probably meet in the coffee shop that I always studied in. I’d probably marvel at how studious and strangely-quirky she is, and how I’m still that same way. But I’d also wonder how everything could be so different from her to me. We’d probably theorize about the world and about our philosophies, and we’d probably enjoy each other’s company very much. The college-me would probably try to convince present-me that I’m too cynical and too harsh on the world. Our stubbornnesses would probably cancel each other out and it would end in a draw. She would probably wonder what made me this way and why I let myself fall into pessimism’s grasp. And I would tell her not to get so hung-up on her thoughts and lost in her mind. I’d also tell her that it’s okay to make a few mistakes and not to miss out on everything around her. But mostly I’d let her know that her grand plans aren’t going to pan out the way she wants, and that’s okay. In the end, we’d probably learn more from one other than simply argue who’s right and who’s wrong. We’d probably be equals and walk out as good friends.
If I could catch up with my high school-self, she would probably be the hardest to be around. We’d probably both roll our eyes at each other and I would tell her to stop trying so hard to fit in. She’d probably mock my nerdiness and wonder what our future was coming to. We’d probably fight about the reality of our life: she’d tell me I’m being completely unreasonable and she’d question every decision I’ve made to get to this point in life; I would probably try to explain how this is exactly how we have always been and that she’s the only one who tried to suppress it. Mostly I’d try to convince her to stop trying to be that imaginary girl—to stop trying to blend in with everyone else. Hopefully we would be able to end on good terms and some light would be shed on how the me of the past and present me could ever be the same person. But ultimately, we’d probably just end up scoffing at each other and walk away irritated.
If I could see my preteen-self, I’d tell her she’s wonderful and to never get lost in the madness that happens to everyone in the next phase of their life (the hormonal, basket-case stage, who I previously visited). I’d tell her to never stop imagining a world that is fantastical and magical. I’d tell her she doesn’t have to change for anyone… beg her not to. And I’d tell her to never forget that life is truly beautiful for someone with so much curiosity—sad at times, but mostly beautiful. I’d want her to tell me one of her stories because they were always so much fun to make up. I’d also want her to keep searching for Narnia in the back of the closet, to keep building castles in her backyard swamp, and to keep an eye out for that Hogwarts letter (even if it never really comes). We’d probably end with a bear hug and a long laugh.
If I could visit my kid-self, the one with a sweet, innocent voice and knotted-blonde hair, I’d first kiss her and thank her for making her brother her best friend and her mom her hero. I’d want to tell her that everything will be okay and that the world will not (as far as she can tell) knock her down to badly. I’d also assure her that her asymmetrical family is not normal, but it’s better that way. I want to let her know that someday things will get very confusing and it’s not her fault when he leaves for good. I’d want to tell her there will be gloomy days, but the rain is so beautiful in spite of it all. I’d want to tell her so much—more than the others. But I wouldn’t. She’s too young for those kind of thoughts and someday she will just have to figure things out for herself. So instead, I’d probably just sit contently listening to her babble on about something, and I’d wonder how on earth she could have been such an endless talker at such a young age. We’d definitely leave each other as friends, because she always left everyone as her friend. She was kind and curious and brave, and I need to remember that; remember her.
What would life be like if we could sit down and talk with ourselves at different times in our lives?
Every time I write I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel of emotion.
I go up and around, thinking: this is the greatest thing ever conceived of; my writing is flawless; I am John Steinbeck.
And then I go down and I doubt every word, thinking: this is the most horrible piece of literature ever imagined; I’ll never write again; I’m worse than…ehem, a certain sparkly vampire writer.
Then I go back around and try to fix it, thinking: this is not so bad. Until it starts all over and I regret ever knowing how to spell.
When you buy a new, old book and find someone else’s notes in the margin it makes you smile and wonder what they’re up to now, like you’re old friends rekindling. Only they don’t know it. And, I guess that’s kind of sad.
This is dedicated to the previous owner of The Poetry of Robert Frost, the Henry Holt and Co. edition. May we be friends in another life.
What do we do when we are not thinking about what to do?
When our minds stop for a second, at peace and at war with a single fixation; when we lose ourselves in a suspension fit like a vacuum to all that there is or was or ever will be. When the world keeps revolving around, humble and contentious, and we are forgotten in the folds of the rhythm. When there is nothing and everything present all at once; when our capricious beings are consumed by Time and we are content in the waves of Earth’s humble rhyme. When those silent hours hush our dichotomous beliefs and, for that single moment, we are frozen; locked in our thoughts and not thinking one bit.
What do we do then, when the world itself doesn’t exist to our philosophy of life and we are still?
And one of the happiest things in the world is remembering something you thought had gone adrift.
Misplaced in the folds of your memories and ideas,
A flicker you had and tried to preserve;
A shooting star that crossed your mind for moment in time.
And then it was gone, inevitably forgotten.
Until! You wait- just wait.
It returns, like a beacon, brighter than ever,
A blaze in your scope, a memory restored.
And that is one of the happiest things of all,
Remember what you forgot that you lost.