Sunday, November 11, 2012

Causes, Correlations

I'm not sure whether there's cause-and-effect at work, or just a correlation, but when I fell back into checking news sites and political blogs, I also fell back into a jittery, tired, unhappy state of mind, which lasted a couple of days, and lifted when I stopped checking Andrew Sullivan, et. al.

This gets me thinking about the other kind of clicking and checking that I do, on musical instrument sites., some local music stores, Craigslist, Ebay:  I spend a fair amount of time on each of these, looking over the latest offerings, although I'm not really shopping as such.  In fact, in the past few weeks I've seen two or three of the instruments I was ostensibly waiting and searching for become available, and with money in the bank, I've passed on all of them.

Those particular neural pathways got laid down back in '04, almost a decade ago, when I started looking for an octave mandolin, and they've only gotten deeper.  I wonder, though, whether it's not time for me to try cutting out those searches for a while, too, and see what happens.

(The minute I type that sentence, a thought occurs:  but what if someone puts a Mid-Missouri octave up for sale?  I'd MISS it!  Heh.  Maybe I should say, We'd miss it, Precious!)

I did have a good time yesterday at a local guitar store, trying out a few instruments in person.  The pleasure came less from the instruments themselves, though, than from being able to play some jazzy chord runs on them:  a bit of bossa nova that I learned last summer; the opening chords for Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover," which I've learned for the sake of the Alte Rockers' parody I'm writing "Fifty Shades (to be Her Lover."  The fantasy of buying a new instrument may really be, deep down, a fantasy of playing better--playing like the kind of person who would own X, Y, or Z.  Lessons in my future, maybe?


Laura Vivanco said...

Years ago (I think on this blog) you mentioned that sometimes you felt your existing instruments looked at you reproachfully, because you didn't spend much time with them.

Maybe you could make a deal with yourself to stop looking for new instruments in order to spend more time with the ones you already have?

[I feel really stupid suggesting this, as though I'm trying to be a musician/instrument marriage guidance councillor. Next thing you know, I'll be saying things about the thrill of the chase vs. the joys of domesticity...]

E. M. Selinger said...

I remember those posts, Laura! I don't personify the instruments as much now as I once did--probably because my daughter has stopped giving them names, like stuffed animals. Selling off three of them over the past year (one guitar, two mandolins) might have made me less sentimental about them, too.

What I'm trying to do, though, is to figure out the real impulse behind all this window shopping. Inasmuch as it's about wanting to play a certain way, or a certain kind of music, I think I can scratch that itch best by playing more, and maybe taking lessons. Inasmuch as it's just a habit on the browser, though--a set of sites that I click through when I'm bored with whatever else I'm up to, on the computer--I want to replace it with some other online habits, like reading people's blogs, writing my own, and looking for lessons in how to play this or that song or riff.

The older I get, the more I realize how powerful habit can be. With a birthday approaching, I'm trying to work with that fact, to "hack my habits," and see what I can accomplish in the coming year.

Laura Vivanco said...

"I want to replace it with some other online habits, like reading people's blogs, writing my own"

I'd vote for lots more Eric-posts but I suppose there's no representation without taxation so I don't actually get a vote on this issue ;-)