Thoreau on Looking Back and Moving Forward
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Enjoy!
“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”
Henry David Thoreau
For most of us, practice is not imperative. No one scolds us if we miss a practice. No one checks to make sure we played our scales. No one holds us to our personal musical commitments.
If we give meaning to these failures, we may lose motivation. Negative self-talk can convince us of all sorts of nonsense. We can find ourselves thinking we’re somehow flawed, as opposed to just human.
In reality, all we have is today. And today we can choose what we do and how.
Indeed, the only way forward is to do good work today. Yesterday’s misfires and aborted attempts matter not a whit. And looking back with regret or shame serves no worthwhile purpose.
In the same respect, the grand dreams of tomorrow are only useful if we move toward them today.
Carl Jung, one of the fathers of psychology, warned, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
And Byron Katie said, “Want regret? Get a past. Want anxiety? Get a future.”
Somewhere in the balance of all our mental and emotional chatter, we have today. We can both acknowledge the past and plan for the future. But we yield power only here today.
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.
Great advise here. I find I am taking more time with the pieces than I would have in the past as I am focusing on the technique you have taught me. It is slower going at first but has fewer frustrations, is easier and sounds better in the end.
Hi Allen, I am a Dutch guy who plays classical guitar (solo and together with a flute player). Unfortunately I have been suffering from focal dystonia since begin 2016. Of course I tried physical therapy which didn't help… But I tried some of your [technique] lessons (I had teachers before but I was never taught your techniques) and to my big surprise the nasty feeling in the back of my right hand which pulls my index finger upward was gone! So now I practice your lessons. Anyway, I am very happy to have found you on the internet. Thanks very much!
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