Three years ago, I asked my husband for a guitar for Valentine’s Day. I had always wanted to learn how to play, and it felt like the right time to take lessons. Hubby happily obliged my request, and I was on my way to fulfilling a dream.
I found a wonderful, and accommodating, teacher named Sam. He helped me learn the songs I wanted to play. The one thing I never asked for, though, was a lesson on tuning my guitar. I tried it on my own a few times, broke some strings, and told myself that tuning a guitar was difficult, and intimidating, and I would never get it right. That Sam was somehow different from me. He, and every other guitar player I know, had an ear for tuning, but I didn’t. So I let Sam tune my guitar each time we met, and did my best to keep it in tune between lessons.
I played guitar for about 18 months, and enjoyed a few family sing-a-longs, but my interest dwindled with each passing month. I didn’t think I was very good, and eventually stopped taking lessons all together. I told myself it was because I didn’t have time to be good at both guitar and yoga, and yoga was more important.
But, looking back now, I realize that’s not really the truth. The truth is that I never committed to owning my experience with my guitar. I was afraid of failing, and let that fear prevent me from pursuing one of the things I have always wanted to do.
It’s human nature to create stories about our lives, and repeat them over and over again. In so doing, we become attached to our beliefs about who we are, and what we can and can’t do. Which makes changing our habits feel like pushing a boulder uphill.
Boulder pushing is not necessarily fun, but it can be done, and we get stronger in the process. But no one ever got a boulder up the hill, and enjoyed the view at the top, without first letting go of the idea that they can’t.
On Valentine’s Day this year, I finally let go of the story that I can’t tune a guitar. It wasn’t by choice; it was out of necessity. Two of my three daughters just started taking guitar lessons, and their teacher suggested I learn how to tune the guitars for them.
Taking my yoga off the mat, I silenced the voice in my head that was screaming What, me? I can’t do that! and let him show me how it was done. It took less than 5 minutes.
Afterward, I felt silly for not making it a priority sooner. It wasn’t as hard as I thought! I also felt empowered, and couldn’t wait get back to strumming my six string.
It led me to an “aha” moment. I realized that I never really tried to figure it out, because I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t trust myself enough to fully commit to learning to play guitar. And not owning the experience made it really easy to walk away.
Clearly, I was wrong. I can tune a guitar. And I’m pretty sure I can become a better musician, if I try. Which is awesome, because it means that there are probably a lot of other really cool things that I think I can’t do, that I really can. I just have to pay better attention, and remember that letting go of the story is the key to self-empowerment.