Letters of Life

While My Fingers Gently Weep

A mellow afternoon at Port Fairy, The Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

After two years of neglect, my guitar has found a friend in me again.

I’m a bad friend then, because I only pick up the guitar when the need arises; the keyboard is just more gratifying for me to play. But I am heading to a place in a few months—a place where a keyboard would be considered luxury—and I’ve volunteered to play the guitar when we sing.

So the need to practice.

I just wanted to be helpful, that’s all. It’s not like I can’t play, I just forgot how to create chords with my left fingers. I forgot about the pain too. Actually, that’s not true. Nobody ever forgets pain, it lessens, it fades, but no one forgets.

I grasp the neck of the folk guitar with anxious fingers and press on the thin and stiff nylon strings. I swoop down on the strings with the fingernail pick in my right fingers. The strum, a medley of tones, tumble out jumbled and indistinct. This is not music.

So I press on, literally, while my fingertips feel like they’re being split slowly and gradually, by soft but unbreakable nylon whips. With each downstroke, the strings vibrate against the soft skin of my fingers, right beneath the nails. It’s killing me softly with each song.

I wince through the first eight bars of Here I Am to Worship. The more it hurts, the more muddied the tones sound. I press down hard and the pain intensifies. At the very least, I must be singing with feeling by now.

My wrist is so grotesquely twisted to reach wide, unfamiliar places on the fretboard that I don’t think my general posture, hunched over the guitar, looks artistic at all. I’m just a beginner, all over again.

It takes at least a week of dedicated practice for the callouses to form over the tips, for the old skin to harden and which I will then peel off gleefully. That will feel good. If I stop practicing for a few days, the pain in turn stays for a few days longer, and if anything, I want to minimise the tor wait if I can help it.

Guitar practice ended 20 minutes ago. But the tips throb, and echoes of the pain reverb in my flesh as I hit the QWERTY keyboard. My Taylor is happy I’m again its friend, but in the meantime, my fingers gently weep.

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2 Responses »

  1. I know exactly the feeling! With things like this, dropping them for even a week, makes it feel like a year. Brilliant blog, by the way. 🙂

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