For the past few nights, I have fallen asleep with my guitar.
“Wait, you play the guitar?” those of you who know me might be asking.
“Girlfriend, you need a man,” might be what others might be thinking. That comment needs a whole other blog post, at least.
But as for the first question, yes I actually own three guitars now. But I rarely play them. The thing is that I thought I just didn’t know HOW to play. And each time I would pick one up to try, I would get frustrated and think that this whole guitar thing is so far from… well, who I am. So I would give up.
The thing is that there are guitars all around me- from the painting I did years ago, still hanging on my wall, to the guitar piggy bank I have in my kitchen, to the little guitar decoration on my bookshelf. Oh, and what about that guitar keychain I owned for a few years? Not to mention that one of the most inspiring and life changing movies I have ever seen is called The Guitar as well.
So what gives? Why didn’t I just see the signs and get to it? If any of you have tried playing the guitar, especially an adult, you know it’s not that easy. Getting your fingers to coordinate and stretch enough but also be delicate enough to get right into the exact spots on the frets is pretty tricky stuff.
But then I would go out and see others play the instrument making it look so easy, and I would think, if he or she can do it, why can’t I? It wasn’t until recently, though, that someone’s playing really inspired me. Something about it set off a spark that I couldn’t ignore any longer. Maybe because talking to him after made me realize that he is just another human being like me. Maybe his patience in listening to my complaints about why I didn’t play and realizing that he had similar struggles when he was first learning made me see things with more hope. Or maybe he simply was just that good and I wanted to feel even a little bit of what that felt like.
After listening to him for the second time, that night, I went home, sat on my bed and quietly tried playing some of the exercises in the book I have had for more than a year now. I played quietly so I wouldn’t wake my neighbours, but I played with more purpose this time. More determination, but also more enjoyment. Sitting on my bed playing felt less formal, less far from who I usually am on a daily basis. I was just home, exploring this new instrument, and actually being curious about it and enjoying it.
I don’t remember how long I played, but it must have been for some time because eventually, I got tired and fell asleep. And in the morning, I laughed as I found myself curled up as usual on the left side of my bed. But, what was not usual, was that my guitar was laying next to me on the right. The book I was playing from was just laying on top of it. And I thought, who am I? Haha! I would never have imagined this in a million years.
But you know what? I couldn’t wait to practise again. It was like setting it right next to me like that, while I slept, allowed something about the playing and the instrument and the idea of me playing it into me dreams, into my subconscious. And it felt less far from me- both physically and in terms of me being able to attain some sort of skill on it.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it will take awhile. A long time maybe. But something has shifted. I could feel it. And I wondered how I could make this shift in other aspects of my life as well- particularly with dancing.
I have been dancing many years. But I use the excuse of not having a proper dance floor in my apartment or close to me as the reason I don’t practise. I still sometimes bring up the fact that I am not a trained dancer from a young age- with ballet and jazz and years of building up a dancer’s body in my background. But there are others like me who, despite not having danced since they were kids, have reached levels in their dancing that make them look as if they have been dancing all of their lives.
I think part of the difference is that they make it a part of their daily life. They surround themselves with dancing. They train, they practise. And they think of themselves as dancers, they know and feel that they are. And they just keep working at it with that thought in mind.
However they can get the dancing into their body, into their dreams, into their subconscious, they do it. They become the dancing, embodying it, sleeping to it, and waking to it. I admire that. I want it. And want to find ways to incorporate that more into my life so I don’t have to think that I’m not a “real” dancer, a real artist, a real whatever it is that I want to be because I am not doing it in a studio or a professional setting.
Sleeping with my dance shoes might not be the smartest or most hygienic thing to do. But maybe I can alternate one night sleeping with a guitar, and another night sleeping with tango music, or watching more zouk videos before I sleep. Or maybe just freeing up space in the entrance to my little apartment to practise some dance steps every morning. And making the dancing something that is a part of my regular morning routine, reminding myself that I am a dancer, I am an artist.
It’s funny how when you surround yourself with what you love more, you believe more in your ability to achieve what you want from it. Because you don’t have to go too far to find it. It just becomes a part of your life and all you need to do then is to keep living it.