ODY: 35/365. Weekly, Not Weakly.

I showed off my calluses today. Sitting in a seminar, engaged in a getting-to-know-you with Kim, I mentioned the Old Dog Year, that there’s a trick with a guitar that I’m learning to do. She plays, she composes, and so she had that warm and knowing interest. “Five weeks. Nice. How’s it going?” I offered her the fingertips of my left hand, and pointed out their toughness with bashful pride. She smiled. She got it.

Yes, there are moments when a chord comes out clean, or when the picking fingers work with a mind of their own. I slide into automatic pilot, a brief patch of detachment when I can let go and listen to what my hands are doing, no strings of wilful insistence attached. Easy. But one of the most valuable signs of progress is a blunt and fairly stupid one, but I like it: I have hard fingertips. My calluses remind me, when the guitar or even thoughts of it are distant, that I’m putting in the work. It’s like being able to catch a hardball in the palm of your glove without pain, cutting and jump-stopping in basketball practice without fear of blistered feet.

My belly is softer and rounder than I ever thought possible, but my digits are tough and nimble. I’m a hard-body! (From the palms out) Today makes five full weeks in which I have strapped myself to a chair and Done the Thing each day. Nearly ten percent of a year. Victory is mine! It is good to look back on 35 days of required clumsiness and see what small advances have been made. I’m proud of you, Old Dog! Good stuff! I almost said that out loud, and came dangerously close to actually believing it.

The thought of picking up the guitar every day is a pleasant one now. I’ve made friends with it, and it’s teaching me well though it cares not at all. I’ll keep the streak going, but I think from here I’ll record my progress weekly. Until Week Six. 

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