Therapeutic Guitar


It was a Dark and Stormy Night...

No, really. It was.

Yesterday was a hard day here, with the kind of damp cold that searches through your clothes to chill you to the bone, and with the kind of spitty rain that makes sure you are never quite dry. It was a hard day for me in another way. A good friend was laid to rest yesterday after fighting the good fight against cancer. Joe was a good guy. A really good guy. Calm. Quiet. Quick to smile and tell a story to encourage you. He was a deputy sheriff in his spare time. I didn't know until late-on in his illness that he was fighting the fight of his life, even though we worked in the same complex. Yesterday I went to the funeral home where his little family and a couple hundred friends gathered to joyfully remember him and give thanks for his presence in their lives. After the service, his daughter, now a young mom, stared as the casket went down the aisle and through the honor guard with a lingering love and longing in her eyes.

When I got home, I took the dogs out into the sodden evening and let them walk and sniff, do the dog thing. Then I kind of left the world behind, went upstairs to my little room, and pulled out a guitar. It was the cedar-topped one that my wife gave me for our twentieth anniversary. Things come easily on that guitar for some reason. I have no idea what pieces I played, but sure enough, they flowed easily. From there I tried a couple of meditative things on the classical guitar. There's a wife story behind that guitar as well. Then it was the reso, where I played a couple of tunes: Duane's "Little Martha" and one piece I wrote, uh, for my wife on our twentieth anniversary, oddly enough. All the time I played it wasn't some great spiritual experience or, "This is for you, Joe" thing, or anything like that. It was just a nice reflective time, giving thanks for all the good in my life and soaking up the comfort and familiarity of music I've been playing for what, forty some-odd-years?

After Id been playing for about an hour, the next choice was the twelve-string, where I just began fiddling around. You know how it is with twelve-string guitars - you've got good tuning days and bad tuning days. A tuner can't get you exactly there, it requires an ear, and when the tuning it right, it is magic. Yesterday was a good tuning day and it was a pleasure to wander around the fingerboard and relax. Once again, it was just therapeutic playing and soaking up good feelings, this time from a song I wrote back in 1979.

Eventually my wife stuck her head around the corner, smiled gently, and said, "Ah. The twelve string. It just has an entirely different sound, doesn't it? It is lovely. Hey, I've got a craving for barbeque. Let's go out." So we headed out into the blustery night again, but this time I was surrounded by a warm cocoon. Joe is in a better place, and after playing the guitars and visiting the old songs, I was too.