Anne Lamott on What to Do When Nothing Works
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Enjoy!]
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
In our lives and practice, we sometimes “hit the wall”. We reach the point where nothing seems to work. We wonder if we’ll ever get past the current challenge.
These are the moments that test our resourcefulness. When our usual go-to solutions don’t work, we face the question of what to do next.
There is magic in Anne Lamott’s recommendation: unplug for a few minutes.
Taking a break allows us to revisit the challenge with fresh eyes and ears. We may have new perspectives and ideas. Or our body may have caught up to our mind (or vice versa).
Downtime, such as a walk, nap, or just “zoning out”, gives our mind time to churn on the problem. While we’re otherwise occupied, it’s hard at work on the issue.
This is why we often have clever ideas in the shower, or upon first waking.
Yes, we can beat our heads against the same wall until cracks appear. Or, we can define the problem then unplug. Brute force is not always the best option.
Short, frequent practice sessions take advantage of this. And daily practices are better than marathon weekend ones. The more work-rest cycles we get, the better.
When things feel hopeless, maybe all we need is to step away, then return
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two stellar teachers – one focused on the technical, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully. Click here for a sample formula.
I also want to thank you for including more video lessons on the Bridges Guitar Series. I have learned to play Calatayud's Waltz. The most exciting thing about having done this is that I sight read the entire piece as I was learning it. Six months ago looking at a sheet of music was like looking at Egyptian hieroglyphics. Learning to read notation is empowering and I appreciate the sensible way you are teaching us to learn to read music.
I feel my guitar proficiency is improving considerably. Every day I’m exceedingly comfortable with my right hand technique and overall fluency. And my sight-reading has improved as well. Thank you for creating the Woodshed. It’s thoughtful construction and scope and sequence of knowledge and skills has advanced my guitar skills significantly. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
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