Community pillar and Nordic axe-god @Kasper recently remarked
“It is my strong opinion and recommendation that people should strive to become better all the time. I mean, surely that must be the purpose for everybody around here?”
At first glance that seems self-evident.
I mean, we are on a website designed primarily to teach people with no previous experience how to play guitar. On top of that there are so many further lessons to help folk build upon whatever skills they have and progress in so many directions. Everyone’s here to learn. Case closed.
What about all those people who enjoy playing guitar but aren’t getting better? Or are even getting worse? The initial assumption implies that everyone in these categories will be classified as ‘failures’ or at least not achieving their aims.
It’s a simple fact of life that applies to every skill we learn:
You go from zero to improving (to whatever level, usually with multiple peaks and troughs) and then decline (at varying rates) back to zero (death).
I love to ski. I started when I was four or five in Beirut. When I lived in Switzerland, I had a lot more access and became quite good. My skills even continued to improve (with peaks and troughs) when I moved to Dublin, maybe into my forties. Now pushing 60 with an arthritic hip, I haven’t skied since before Covid and I am nowhere near my previous abilities. However, put me on a snowy slope and I know I would still be able to get as much enjoyment now as I ever did in the past.
The point is to engage with whatever activity you undertake to the best of your ability. Your satisfaction will come from what you put in, not what you get out.
Of course, ‘getting better’ at anything is a rush, but it’s a side-effect, not the point. As soon as it becomes the goal you set yourself up for disappointment/disillusionment somewhere further down the track.
Our beloved Community mentor @Richard_close2u has mentioned on numerous occasions how he used to practice hours on end, honing his skills and how he feels rusty in comparison. (I think I remember Justin expressing similar thoughts). Why do we admire them? Because they fully engage with what they are doing at that moment, whether it’s playing or teaching.
I’m terrible at setting goals in my guitar learning. I rarely look at lessons but I do enjoy playing, learning songs and engaging with a wide variety of folks in guitar-centered discussion/activity. I am still slowly improving in some areas and that gives me great pleasure. I hope to still be clogging up AVOYP when I get even worse!
Enjoy the process people- even when things might not seem to be going in the right direction
(The length of my recent posts reflects the time it’s taking some of my ‘collaborators’ to get their contributions to me in my latest ‘project’. I’ll stop now. Promise. )