My son is a great mirror for me. He’s a creative, somewhat driven child who’s endlessly fooling around with cool ideas and new ways to do things – and, because he’s 11, his tolerance for frustration is relatively low. And that’s why he makes such a great mirror for us all.
About eighteen months ago, I bought Luke a starter electric guitar after a musician friend came for the weekend and delighted him with hers. Watching him learn to play this instrument over the past year and a half has been a perfect exercise in what we all go through in pursuing our creative dreams.
At first, everything was rosy – ‘Man, is this a cool instrument! Look what it can do!’
Luke decided not to take lessons initially, insisting that he wanted to do the home study course our friend provided when he got the guitar. (Alex Forbes, friend in question, has a great new site on song writing at www.creativesongwriter.com )
We made a deal that he could watch TV, play computer games, etc., after he’d spent his daily 15 minutes fooling around with his new guitar and his lessons. At this point, he still had a spring in his step.
Then everything … bogged …. way …. down. After he learned a handful of songs, teaching himself wasn’t fun any more. At the one year mark, a teacher was brought in. Which was fine, until it wasn’t any more. Then another teacher was introduced, and results were better.
But bog down still happened around practicing. He started really hating the process and refusing to practice, even though each time he did, he sounded better and better. Cajoling was becoming necessary.
Finally, the other day, he hit a wall and simply refused to practice at all, any more, ever again. ‘Fine,’ I said, ‘maybe this instrument is not for you.’
And yet …. it was, he insisted! ‘I want to learn the guitar! I just don’t want to practice!’ he wailed.
(Ah – isn’t this just like all of us when we’re pushed to the bleak places with our creative dream?)
I carried on with my business, trying not to give this breakdown too much air time, as he struggled back and forth with whether he should practice or not. Finally, he gave in, picked up his guitar, and promptly played for a full hour, writing an entire song AND even inventing a new way to play the thing. Every so often I’d look over and see a boy completely absorbed in his dream, who could not only play the electric guitar but write cool chord progressions on it, too. Suddenly practicing was fun again.
This would be the proverbial darkness before the dawn … don’t you think?
Dreamers, take note.