When I was a teenager someone I looked up to told me that one of the most important things that I could learn in life was to ‘do what comes naturally’. Being young and naive, I took these words to heart (as smoke poured out of his van...).
My guitar taught me a better lesson. It taught me about the importance of practice.
You see, everything worth cultivating in my life has taken years of disciplined study and repetition.
I’ve become a fairly good guitar player, but that’s because I’ve been consistently playing for over 22 years. When I started I was really bad. Only after thousand of hours on the instrument did it become second nature.
(My mom used to laugh at me for involuntarily sticking my tongue out while agonized over changing from a G chord to a D. I wish I could play for her now.)
Yes, we all have natural strengths and gifts. But I believe that it’s what we do with them that truly matters.
A love of music came naturally to me.
Falling in love was the easy part. Becoming a musician was hard.
I think the same principle applies to character. For instance, I (being a Christian) want to be more like Jesus, but I am selfish by nature. However, the more I practice things like humility, gentleness and kindness, the more natural it becomes to follow His way.
Playing guitar has taught me that the beauty of what we gain is worth the pain that goes into our pursuits.
I just started playing piano. I think I’ll make some beautiful music on it ten years from now.
In the meantime I’ll have to work until I quit hitting bad notes.