Matsuo Basho on how to improve at guitar
Do we need to be inventors or statesmen to find inspiration in Ben Franklin? Do we need to draw and paint for Leonardo Da Vinci to touch our lives?
Masters and mavericks serve us best by example.
They show us that it’s alright to be curious. It’s alright to experiment and fail (a million times over). It’s alright to be human, and it alright to rise above expectations. It’s alright to go for it.
Matsuo Basho was the most famous Edo-period poet in Japan. And he would tell his disciples to absorb but then disregard everything they learned. He even dismissed his own work. It was the seeking that was more important than the learning.
And it doesn’t have to be so serious. Even Basho allowed himself to be lighthearted, with lines such as, “now then, let’s go out / to enjoy the snow … until / I slip and fall!”
We can look to others for guidance and we can benefit from their experience. But the main ingredient to create what they’ve created is to constantly seek clarity and perspective.
With all the information available to us these days, advice is cheap. Real progress happens when we put our hands and attention on our guitars.
We can seek to hear more accurately and honestly. We can strive to stay more present and aware of each movement of a finger. We can gently steer our focus back to the task at hand when in strays.
So the “what” is less important than the “how”. And the “how” is less important than the “why”. If our purpose in playing guitar is to master our bodies and minds, the guitar can’t help but follow.
“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of others, instead, seek what they sought.”