Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rebirth and Change - my blue baby and I

There's been a lot of posts and pictures going around the net about Easter and how, at its roots, it's about rebirth and change. Now I'm not exactly religious, and it's not often that a religious holiday actually reflects scenarios in my life, but today I'm finding the symbolism here at my fingertips.

For those of you who need a refresher, I have a C4 spinal cord injury. Luckily I came through with relatively little nerve damage. To save you the long sob story, I will only mention what is relevant for this post. My left hand is half numb and slow to move and react. For a singer songwriter whose main instrument had always been a guitar, this was a death sentence.

However, over the years, I have fought through - with the help of some amazing friends - to continue on my journey of music. I have been teaching myself piano, (who needs a complicated bass line?), and have some wonderful bandmates and friends who have been playing accompaniment for me.

But... I have always ached for and missed my guitar. There was something grounded, rooted, and strengthening about playing and singing along with it. It gave me an overwhelming sense of... home. No matter where I was or what was happening in life, I'd pick up my blue baby, (that is my guitar), and suddenly be transported to a nirvanic place of contentment.

I realize this might sound like a dose of melodramatic stinky cheese, but it's the truth.

It was a lost love I simply could not get over.

Over the course of the last week I have steeled my emotional nerves, and tried picking up the guitar again. I say it that way because I have found it shockingly painful to pick up a passion that I used to find so easy, so effortless, so comfortable and beautiful, to find only discordant screeches, clicks and buzzes come out to attack my heart and ears.

I would try, cry, and fail.

But this time... it was different.

This is not to say I didn't still make a lot of mistakes. That my fingers have somehow miraculously returned to their pre-injury state like some sort of god-given miracle. What changed, was me.

Instead of attempting the songs I used to play, I tried something new. I tried something simpler, but equally as beautiful - and it worked. Then, amazingly, as the music swelled in my ears and I returned 'home' to sing with my guitar, a miracle did happen: it became easier. Without thinking, without trying, my fingers began to find their way on their own. The pathways from my brain, down through to my numb fingers, found that the road block in my neck seemed to have disappeared. Or, perhaps, by just letting my body do what it knows how to do, it found a new route. Not perfectly, of course. Not yet, and truthfully, it will never be. But I felt a heart thumping jolt of hope that perhaps in time more pathways could be found. Perhaps more improvement was on the horizon, and more songs could be found - as long as I didn't try to cling to my old guitar playing self.

But most importantly - I could play.

It was crazy - I did feel like the old me, but revised. New. A simple thought coursed its way through my mind: Of course you can't play the same as you did before. You're different now, so play differently. Choose songs differently.

It's funny how these things seem so obvious once you say them. How incredibly "d'uh!" you feel once it clicks in. But I think we all know that sometime its hard to listen through the fog of pain. Sometimes we can't listen even when someone tells it to our face. But however and whenever an epiphany hits, it feels glorious.

So I suppose this weekend does symbolize a rebirth and change for me. A rebirth of how I play guitar, and a change in my acceptance of my abilities. And funnily enough, this rebirth and change brought me back home.

It's neat when that happens. Incredible, really. And I just find the coincidence of this discovery on this particular weekend, regardless of my religious affiliation, somehow romantic and beautiful.

Now, if you'll excuse me.. I need to get back to re-growing my calluses ;p