Thursday, January 24, 2013

two for thirteen

There was one thing I wanted to do this year: learn to play music. I meant to get at it last year, but I simply spent 2012 driving by the nearby music place and rereading the sign that read "Bring Music Into Your Life in 2012!" I don't know if they've changed the banner this year, but I'm staring mandolin lessons in a few weeks. There are loads of good reasons for me and my life: I do love music, I occasionally get asked if I play anything (to which I meekly reply, "Nope, I have zero talent."), and because as some point you have quit watching the years click by. Someone once said that another year will roll by whether or not you do anything - might as well.
I had piano lessons when was a kid, maybe for three years somewhere between the ages of 11-14, but I never practiced. We were the classic case of parents paying for lessons and kid not doing anything but hating lessons. I've often pointed out that never  has this phrase been uttered by a kid who actually took time to learn an instrument: "Man, I cannot believe my parents made me learn how to play saxophone!" Never will hear it. You do often hear those of my ilk saying, "I wish I'd put in just a bit of effort to learn music. Life would be better." Or, more likely, I could be up there with some middling band enjoying myself on weekends. Getting older certainly gives one pause when pondering opportunities offered and lost. The older part does also create obstacles, primarily wondering whether or not you will ever really acquire any skill - and to that I offer Ta-Nehisi Coates, discussing learning a new skill:

"One of the things I've noticed in my studies of French is how much it resembles my studies of athletics. Predictably, I struggle in both athletics and foreign language. But one of the great lessons of my childhood was that no one has the right to be naturally good at anything. More there's a particular pleasure that comes from becoming good at something which you kind of naturally sucked at. I played the djembe as a kid. I had a pretty good ear for rhythm, but no physical coordination. I could hear what I wanted to play, but my imagination exceeded my abilities. For the first year I did it, I sucked. 

But after a year of practice in my parents garage I came to suck a lot less, and by the time I gave up the instrument I had risen to the ranks of the "Merely OK." But I didn't feel "Merely OK." I felt like a king, because I knew from whence I came. I knew that great distance (and it is great) between "Utter Suckage" and "Merely OK." So while I believe in natural talent, I've never seen much point in talking about it. Generally if I decide I want to acquire a skill, I don't see much point in talking about "aptitude." I have chosen the road. Now it's time to walk."
I figure it's my time to walk.
My second item is either more crazy or less crazy. I'm not even sure how to sort out those possibilities, but I will open with this: I have zero actual construction skills. This started out as my desire to jump back into baking - breads, pizzas, lunas. What this has become is my desire to build a wood burning brick oven in the back yard. This is going to take some doing: I could just save some money and buy something to do the trick, but I really do want to take on another challenge and baking (though a challenge) doesn't quite fill my tank. I think I need to remember to pack my aggregate, right? Maybe like this:

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