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Howden’s Law, Article 17 Subsection B: When you’re an Old Dog trying to learn a New Trick, it’s always good to have a six-year-old around. 

It had been a late night out with the friends, laughing and feasting and raising our spirits. Calvin Junior – who lacks a Hobbes, but makes up for it with any number of bears and doggies and especially Skyler, the bald eagle and our Sam’s main squeeze – was shockingly cooperative about bed-prep when we stumbled in the front door, especially when I suggested that maybe I’d combine my oh-no-I-still-have-to-do-guitar-practice with his hunkering down. I sang “Advance Guards”, an old sweet song of longing by Seals and Crofts. Can’t play to it, but just the sight of the guitar in my arms was mesmerizing for Sam, and not in any narcotic way. (“Lie down, bub. No questions, just you and Skyler and the CuddleZone™. No, honey, down. Pretend that you’re going to sleep or something.”) Tried. Took my tortured, twanging run through les blues, and looked up to find Sam (and Skyler) wide-eyed and elbow-mounted. “Are you done?” “Yup, that’s it.” And then he clapped. (Maybe Skyler did, too.) Melt my heart and hope to live.

I hit the basement for some more runs and chord changes and absolutely brain-dead strumming, but I’d already had what I needed. CJ Sam has what I’m looking for. He shows me the beginner’s mind. It comes so hard to most of us after about 15, it seems. All that wonder. All that simple acceptance. All those hoorays. Thanks, buddy. You’re a good little teacher. 

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