Monday, October 11, 2010

A Sensei of my own...

I have lots of things to think about lately. This makes for good blogging. ;-)

I've been practicing my guitar lately. I've tried for year and year and years to learn to play the guitar. The problem is, I'm not so good at self study. According to my mother, I did in fact teach myself how to read when I was very young, but I have no idea how I did that. Since I've become older, I've seem to lost whatever it was that enabled me to intuitively learn.

So I get stuck a lot.

When I started the guitar, I knew nothing about it. It just looked fun. I liked music, and I wanted to be able to play my own music. I even had visions of being able to lead some campfire music for youth groups and such.

So I took my guitar with me to college.

Problem number one surfaced very quickly. I have lofty goals, and little motivation. I give up quickly. First time I hit a wall, I quit. I repeated this step for about 10 years or so, always looking for someone or someway to learn guitar. (and other things for that matter, art, piano, voice lessons, etc) I do well when I am in a class. There are things to learn and a method to learn it. This worked well for art and voice lessons. But for some reason I didn't do well when I tried to take a guitar class. This probably had something to do with the fact that my teacher was a classical guitarist, and I didn't want to play classical guitar.

So I quit.

I took my guitar (the first one I got from my mother, a small 3/4 size guitar) with me to my one summer as a counselor at summer camp. I thought, there should be someone there who would help me learn to play guitar. I quickly found out that camp was a bit busy and there was no time to really learn how to play the guitar. I never learned anything there.

When I came to Japan, I still wanted to learn to play guitar. So I looked for a hard case for my little guitar and my uncle bought me a new(used), bigger guitar from a pawn shop for me to bring over. (ended up using the soft case anyway, haha) I was going through immigration for the first time with my guitar and case and the officer in Japan looked at me and asked "Do you play guitar." and I didn't skip a beat, looked right back at him and said "No, I don't." He told me to have a nice day and let me though. I worried a bit about the immigration procedures in Japan... Haha

Once I moved to my site, I looked for people to teach me guitar. There were several people here who played guitar, and played it well enough, but there was really no time to get together and learn. I was too far behind them, and they didn't know how to teach from the very beginning like I needed. So because I couldn't find a teacher, I would often give up.

I also had the problem that the guitar my uncle bought me was not meant for beginners. The strings were too high and hurt my fingers anytime I tried to play. (I even had both guitarists from the band try to play that guitar and both, while liking the sound, said that it hurt too much to play.) So with a lesson here and there, I did not progress very far in my goal of being able to play guitar.

Then, for my birthday about two years ago, Sing gave me one of his old guitars that he didn't need anymore. He knew I was trying to learn, and my guitar wasn't so good. I was really excited to get such a great present.

But even then, it was hard to practice. I just didn't know what to do.

Then one of my friends told me that instead of trying to learn to play chords and stuff first, I should just choose a song and try to play it. She helped me pick out a song with very easy chords (Em and Am) and I could start practicing. I learned a strum pattern from her, and then I had at least one song I could try to play.

I'm not really sure when, but little by little I gradually started getting the hang of things. I learned how to change chords, how to sing while strumming, how to get my fingers used to the strings etc. I grew brave enough to try a new song, one with three chords. For the longest time, I could only play (or rather play at) two songs. I found one more song and my grand total was three.

From that point, it was a problem of finding time to practice. I had a few more lessons here and there. (One from the previously mentioned Sensei, but he is busy and can't really teach me so often.) But for the most part, I had to do things on my own.

Yesterday I was asking one of the band members about how to study rhythm. I really have no rhythm. I have one strum pattern I can play songs to, and when it doesn't work, I just really have no idea what to do. As I would also like to learn to play the bass someday, I really want to learn about rhythm. So he taught me two rhythm patters for songs I'm trying to play, but that's all.

It's helpful every time I get help from someone, and I appreciate it. I can grow and suddenly I am able to play more than before. But it's a very frustrating process for me.

I want a Teacher. Someone who is interested in investing in me, and helping me learn how to solve my problems. A lesson here, or a hint there only helps so much. I feel like people just expect me to learn it on my own. The problem is I can't. There is only so much I can learn by playing around on my own. I need someone to help me. There is only so much I can learn by searching on the internet. I want someone to tailor the teaching to my needs. I want a Sensei.

Of course, this isn't just about my guitar. This is in general for life. I feel like I'm wandering around so often without a clue. I don't know what to do next or how to do it. There are expectations and consequences I don't understand. And lot's of little teachers a long the way, but no Sensei to be my own.

Now when I say Sensei, imagine Karate Kid, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Someone who mentors you, and meets with you, and pushes you beyond your limits.

Imagine Jesus with his disciples.

Yeah, that's a Sensei.

Today I found myself praying for a Sensei. Maybe because I want things laid out for me in an easy to understand format. Maybe I just want everything spelled out for me. I could just be lazy. But there's more to it than that. I want someone to help me grow. I want to be invested in. I want a relationship with someone who is helping me grow closer to God. I want someone who has time for me and who I don't have to beg to teach me. I want someone who cares if I learn or fail and rejoices and gets mad at me. Maybe I just want Jesus in my life. How awesome it would have been to be one of the disciples. To follow your Sensei, and learn at His feet. To eat dinner with him, and go on trips with him. I think this is at the core of my desire for a Sensei.

There are so many things I want to learn. I'm greedy. But I would really like to learn how to play the guitar. I'm thankful for all the people who have helped me on my way. Maybe I'll learn to play better without a Sensei to help me. But that's my prayer for today. I want a Sensei of my own....

Maybe I should pray instead for contentment and thanksgiving and perseverance (although prayers for learning perseverance is dangerous to plant life around me...)

Or I need to learn how to learn at the feet of My Sensei who is already in me, and Who loves me and watches over me continually.

A Sensei of my own...

1 comment:

David Garcia, Hong Kong said...

After reading your blog entry, I learned that sometimes, the Sensei we are searching can be found after we have hold out, learning a thing or two, and realizing that after so many hours of persevering, we learn not from someone but from ourselves.

Thank you for sharing. Just passing through.