It wasn't about getting there

My son is learning how to play the guitar. At least, that's how I think of it. The funny thing is, he's been learning for nearly three years now.

I was listening to him play tonight and found myself marveling at his skills. I always tell him how much I love his playing and then follow up with an enthusiastic, only slightly humorous suggestion that he join a band, perform at school talent shows, or write a song of his own. It's like those will mark his transition from learning to play guitar to being a guitar player. The reason you learn something is to do something with it. I'm searching for ways he can use his talent.

What I'm missing is that he's not on his way to something else, he's already exactly where he wants to be. In his mind, he's playing the guitar, not learning to play. Of course, he's constantly improving, but for me, learning implies a task to be completed, something to get you from one place to another. He loves playing favorite riffs and reverse engineering songs. It's changed the way he listens to music and given us hours of things to talk about. I want to wrap all of that in progress that can be measured - where is this going?

My son, on the other hand, has a wonderful time exploring songs for a half-hour, then puts the guitar back in the corner and turns off the amp. He might play again the next day or in two weeks.

I tend to forget that the things we do, even things we love to do, don't need a purpose, goal, or specific outcome. They don't need to lead us from one place to another. Sometimes, it's just about being in a blissful place and enjoying that thing, or that person, you love.


Last week's dispatch asked, What is your favorite way to get up and go?

Kelly wrote:

I ask my dog if he wants to go for a walk. I do this while I'm still in bed. He used to spring out of bed and get so excited, but one time I changed my mind and went back to sleep, so now he's more cautious. He lifts his head & stares at me, but won't get out of bed until I do. We're working on rebuilding that trust. So now I really have to get up and get dressed and put my shoes on and take him somewhere.

Daniel wrote:

When I turned 16, I drove everywhere. I'd hop in the car and get lost in the Idaho desert. I'd go until I was sure I was lost, park, and lay on top of my car. Driving used to be freedom. Now that I'm older, driving has become a way of transportation. A way to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time. Driving is never something I'd thought I'd lose, but the revered became routine, the sacred became stale.<br><br>Within the last year, I moved to the Oregon coast. I live two blocks from the 101. One day, I went for groceries. My brother called to tell me he was already at the store and I could go home. I turned the car around, but instead of stopping, I kept going. I splintered off a road I didn't know and drove until I came to the end. I walked in the rain, exploring an abandoned farm. For the first time in a long time, driving wasn't about getting there. I didn't want to get from point A to point B. I wanted to travel. Driving is freedom.

Amanda wrote:

I've never been particularly athletic, though I did give it a good try during my junior year of high school when I was the goalie for our JV field hockey team. Until about 18 months ago, no athletic activity really stuck with me. Then our family joined the local pool and I decided to try swimming. I've never had lessons and I'm teaching myself as I go, but I've loved challenging myself in this area. I started swimming barely a quarter mile, and while I haven't picked up much speed, I've stretched myself in endurance. Last fall I managed a 6 miler, and it was fantastically exhausting to reach that milestone. The thing I love about swimming is the calmness of it. It gives my mind time and space to process things at a slower speed, and I have worked out solutions to problems and dreamed up stories to tell. When I really want to get up and go, I go to the pool.

Uncommon reads

when I quit smoking by Andre Torrez, on addictions both physical and digital:

The weekend was a little tougher. I ended up getting stuck indoors with a bad case of pollen allergies and every time I reached for my phone to check in on Twitter I was able to catch myself. A few times I actually loaded the app only to realize what I was doing and close it. It’s not as destructive as smoking, but it sure feels a lot like the same sort of addiction.

The Story of My App by Christopher Niemann:

Simplicity is not about making something without ornament, but rather about making something very complex, then slicing elements away, until you reveal the very essence.

Creative People Say No by Kevin Ashton:

Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?”

Your turn

What have you loved learning?