Spring, Strumming And Renewal

May 13, 2013
BY Simone Ellin

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took our daughter, a junior in high school, on her first college tour. We drove from Baltimore to New York, making our way from the Hudson Valley through Connecticut to Massachusetts, visiting four colleges along the way.

In early April, the weather was warm, and even in the Northeast, signs of spring were apparent; each college was more beautiful than the previous one, and the opportunities for lucky students such as my daughter seemed endless. The world, I felt (pardon the non-kosher reference), was truly her oyster.

My daughter is excited about this process, and admittedly I am just as excited. Some might say I am overly involved, and I won’t try to deny that I am living vicariously through her college search. My own experience was quite different. For one thing, I didn’t work as hard as she, and my grades and SAT scores reflected that. Even in those days, when college was far less competitive, it is unlikely I would have qualified for the top-tier schools she is considering. Although my parents tried to reason with me, I turned down the opportunity to go to a very good state school because of my musical talent, and I chose instead to go to a music conservatory. Within a month of my first semester, I realized that I was not cut out for a career as a professional musician. I would never touch my cello again.

Through the decades, I missed my music. I had always wanted to learn the guitar, but something held me back. Initially, I stayed away because I couldn’t imagine playing music merely as a hobby. In later years, I was always too busy. Lessons and buying or renting an instrument were too expensive. There were lots of reasons.

Mostly, I was scared — scared to start something new. I was embarrassed that I had forgotten everything I had once known about music. How would I find a teacher? Would I have the discipline to practice? Was my brain even capable of processing new information?

Life went on this way until several weeks ago. It was a Sunday. My husband was at work and my kids were busy with their own activities. I was running pointless errands and spending precious hours in Sam’s Club. Then it hit me.  I didn’t want to spend my Sundays this way.  I wanted to do something meaningful with these free hours. It dawned on me that now was the time to return to music. My old excuses weren’t holding up anymore. Living through my daughter wasn’t the way to go, and feeling thrilled about all the future held for her didn’t mean my own life (and thrills) were over. I could start a new adventure as well.

Several weeks later, I found a guitar teacher, and without giving myself the chance to second guess the decision, I scheduled a lesson. Last week, I had my first one. It was scary, embar-rassing and overwhelming. There were moments when the feelings of doubt were almost paralyzing. In the end though, my teacher’s words began to make sense.

I am looking forward to a new journey — my own journey — just in time for spring.