View RSS Feed

The 40-Year-Old Music Virgin

Day 6: Insidious rationalization...

Rate this Entry
I wanted to play the guitar tonight. So I did, but I didn't.

I wanted to play the guitar tonight, but I didn't want to practice fretboard fundamentals or learn foundational music theory. I told myself to play the guitar because practice is just practice and it's not really playing. I convinced myself to play/not play.

This is perhaps the most insidious trap in adult learning: rationalizing procrastination. In effect, I played myself.

All I've ever wanted to do is play the guitar. This whole thing is about playing the guitar. It's a long journey with tremendous payoffs, but it's also tempting to take shortcuts.

Tonight I opted for instant gratification. Instead of sticking to the program, I strummed a handful of songs I already know for 20 minutes. I didn't learn anything new or grow as a musician. I didn't even play the songs well... which is a good thing because I didn't get the gratification I was expecting. My shortcut lead me nowhere.

I didn't learn a music lesson tonight, but I did reinforce an ongoing life lesson: do your work.

I know what I need to do. I signed up for this willingly. Now I must do the work.

If there's no marked improvement, I've just spent the time and my time is too precious these days. I can't spend or waste time. I have to invest it. I will only get better if I challenge myself. I must work on what I can't do until I'm able to do it well. I also have to remind myself that the work itself can be as satisfying as ducking it.

<sigh> If only my goal was to become better at procrastination. </sigh>

Now, if you will excuse me, I'm logging out to resume an unfinished guitar lesson. My delinquent pinky isn't going to straighten itself out.


  1. Tig's Avatar
    I'm the opposite. I have to force myself to practice or start a lesson. I have unread books and partially watched lesson DVD's. Perhaps the long nights of working hard have made me want to enjoy my free time in a less structured way. Someday, I'll develop the discipline to practice. I know it would help me quite a bit.

    In the mean time, I'll be playing or improvising over a backing track or song.