You’ll need to excuse me for a few weeks while I get the new-giddy-excitement of starting a new instrument out of my system. I should really be writing about the New York Marathon in less than seven weeks –and I will– but I’ve now officially distracted myself with an expensive piece of wood and string. Less than twenty-four hours later I realize that my first big challenge isn’t going to be reading music (which I can do) or finding notes (which is going to be tough, but mentally) but instead manipulating my 40-year-old digits into new and convoluted positions. I picked up a grip & hand exercising gadget at lunch, so with a mouse in one hand and my Grip Master TM in my other, hopefully I’ll speed up my ability to actually manipulate my fingers across the strings.
So, this musical instrument may have arrived on my doorstep yesterday. I will admit I’ve been a wee bit excited at the prospect of having it in my hands and I may have read a dozen websites and watched about 20 hours of YouTube video in the last couple weeks about “what to do when you get your new violin.” I unpacked it, set it up, spent about an hour tuning it, and mucked around playing random notes. After about an hour of just making pointless sounds I figured I may as well do something more productive, so I learned how to play exactly one song (though not especially well): Twinkle Twinkle Little Star screeched through the house for the better part of the evening. My wrist, which has discovered a new way of twisting as I reach for the strings, is sooooooore this morning.
I have this crazy idea.
My ideas, they are all of them a little crazy, I know. So I’m told. The small ideas tend to be harmless but then occasionally I get a really big, all-consuming crazy idea that nets me more than just strange looks and sidelong glances from various people in my life.
I will pause and note that distance running was my crazy idea once, too, not so long ago. Then I trained, lost a bunch of weight, and ran a couple marathons and now people know me as that geeky guy who runs half and full marathons. I write blogs about it. It’s not all that crazy anymore.
And speaking of running, I used to run with a guy (he got injured and went AWOL on the running) who had a crazy idea about painting. He didn’t seem like a painter-type. Retired blue-collar dude with a heart of gold, but more of a puttering around the yard with a beer type. You never would have thought of him as fine-artistically inclined or even tilted in that general direction: but then suddenly we were seeing him post photos of his canvases on Facebook. And then we all went to his gallery show and shook his hand. And now, apparently and last I heard, he’s moved to Vancouver Island to pursue inspiration for his art. Not a crazy idea anymore.
Perspiration. Inspiration. Purpose. Drive.
Crazy ideas can stop being crazy after a little work …I think …is what I’m trying to say, especially if those crazy ideas take purchase in an inspired mind and are methodically pushed forward by grit and hard work. Perspiration. Inspiration. Purpose. Drive. Whatever.
So, I have this crazy idea. A new-ish crazy idea. It’s a crazy idea that’s been brewing in my head, mostly quietly for the better part of four or five years. It’s an idea I haven’t actually written about because (a) it really was just this pipe-dream of a crazy idea and (b) it seemed like something I would never even try because of the perceived cost of time, money, and energy.
I tried to ignore it. Get over it. Push it out of my mind.
But then I saw this 40ish milestone approaching, thought of my painter friend, have been doing some (well, a lot) of my own philosophical reflecting on life and pondering the question what, who, why, why-not, or wherefore do I want myself to be when I’m striding towards 50? Because that guy and those are skills are things, to be honest, I needed to start honing a long time ago, but (better late than never?) there’s never a better time to start then now, particularly when now is right around a real-life marker: like the turning of the old odometer over to a new decade.
feeling it flickering in the winds of life, threatening to get snuffed out
Plus, I keep thinking about this idea, pulling it up to the surface of my mind, and knowing damn well if I don’t pursue it with anything short of a good, solid attempt I’m going to regret it. I’ve been bumbling it over and over in my head, almost to the point of obsession, and feeling it flickering in the winds of life, threatening to get snuffed out but then ultimately stand there as a burnt out signpost of something not failed, rather never even attempted.
So… I ordered a violin. Really. Four strings with a wooden neck and all the parts in between. It is supposed to arrive this week.
It’s not an expensive violin. I do understand that owning high quality violins can be a bank-breaking hobby, one making, say, home ownership look like a frugal side-investment. Instead, I did a bunch of research, read numerous reviews, sampled a variety of sources and (digging into my private fun-munny slush fund) bought myself a new mid-level student-grade instrument —a Stentor II Student 1500— packaged with a bow and some of the basic necessities. I also bought some books. Some music. A mute (so that I can hide in the basement after Claire goes to sleep and play away without waking the whole house.) And I’m officially, today, starting down the –I’m given to understand– long and squeaky path of learning to play this classic stringed beast.
And as for motivation? How do you solve the inescapable problem of finding the time, resources and energy to keep at this? I go back to my running adventure and how I weaved it into my hacked mind and cross-pollinated with my other skills and interests: writing, goals, tracking, and public accountability. I’ve created a spreadsheet. I’ve set some personal (based on research and my currently-limited understanding) ability targets.
Oh, and I signed up for some actual, real, in-person lessons. I start this coming week.
I don’t intend on making a fool of myself.
And then a lot of public accountability: in fact I’m giving myself ten years. It’s a timeline. A solid, realistic timeline. In ten years, November 2026 (save the date) on or around my fiftieth birthday, I’m going to host a performance. Me plus some music. Playing. The scope is still way out of mind, but will reflect the effort and the caliber of whatever I achieve in the coming decade… but I don’t intend on making a fool of myself.
I’ll be blogging this little adventure, of course. I’ll probably try recording some video, too. Documenting the process all the way. Explaining my ups and downs, managing the struggles of what I’ve come to understand is one of the more difficult instruments to master.
I don’t expect to master it. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll become proficient… hopefully. It’s so crazy, it just might work.