Labored with doubt and second thoughts about my cognitive and physical ability to jump back into music, I endured many days of serious self-deliberations on factors that I thought would work against me in my pursuit of music, such as age, arthritis, and false notions about learning guitar late in life. If I hadn’t studied music as a youngster, I’d probably be embarking on a different journey, however I grew up in a house filled with music and studied violin, so continuing my musical journey after a 45-year hiatus made me feel like it was the right thing to do. Here I am, three months into music lessons, and I know I’d made the right decision in pursuing a worthy dream.
Fortunately, I had some help in the form of two books to aid in my decision-making process. Zen Guitar, an inspirational, philosophical approach to learning and playing guitar is what keeps me centered on my musical journey. Philip Toshio Sudo, the author of Zen Guitar, passionately melds together the two worlds of guitarist and Zen practitioner. Think Japanese Samurai, but substitute the katana for a Les Paul, and you might render an image of a guitarist practicing his scales in a kendo hall. While Sudo’s work keeps me centered along the Way, it was Gary Marcus’ book, Guitar Zero, which finally persuaded me to pursue a dream and hold on to it with a hell-bent grip. Subject matter experts say that it takes approximately 10,000 hours (ten years) to achieve instrument proficiency or to acquire expertise in a given discipline. If I’m not pushing up daisies, I’ll reach the 10K mark around my 67th birthday.
Though 10,000 hours is a significant milestone in any musician’s journey, it’s neither the final destination nor the ultimate achievement of greatness. Committing to making the journey itself will yield all that is meant to be for the individual who aspires enlightenment through music. I quite simply do it for the sheer love of it; the results are obviously important, but I don’t dwell on what doesn’t exist in the moment. I stay focused on being centered along the Way and maintain a disciplined, practitioner’s approach to my music studies. Indeed, it is the Way that eventually takes us to a place and time we are meant to occupy.