Good for the soul
You can learn a lot from books. You can learn a lot from people around you. You can learn a lot from the ever present Internet. But you can only grow your soul — your spirit — on your own.
I’ve had a successful run of years. I’m good at what I do for a living. My skill set has grown phenomenally over the years. I’ve also become a competent car mechanic. I’ve become a pretty darned good cyclist (both motor, and human powered, thanks). I dropped 75-odd pounds and am in great health.
In that time period, however, I think my growth as a person had come to an abrupt halt. Something was missing.
I’ve been playing some sort of musical instrument since I was 10 and started taking piano lessons. I played all manner of percussion in band and orchestra through high school. I tried various times to pick up enough guitar skill to play and sing. I played bass in jazz band and for some school concert productions.
I tried a bit more to get the guitar thing going while in college — without a whole lot of success. Then a few years later Amanda and I bought a full size keyboard — a “piano substitute”. It was nice to have a musical outlet, but I think there was something missing — I wasn’t playing with other people as I had enjoyed so much during high school in band.
In November of 2008 I came down with a wicked case of the flu, and having watched all the TV I could watch, I picked up the guitar. I had better luck getting my fingers to cooperate with what my brain was asking than I’d ever had before. By October of 2009, I had the confidence to go join a “jam session” of folks playing together on a Tuesday night. It was nice to have an outlet of playing with other people.
Music is always a form of meditation… Singing with the radio is a release, but lacks the connection of “making your own music.” Being able to sing songs while playing the guitar is probably the greatest stress reliever I’ve ever found, and I think it’s probably the most effective form of meditation I’ve found — even better than a motorcycle ride!