I have a beautiful Martin guitar with real ivory, spruce, and East Indian Rosewood. It makes a lovely sound, at least if someone else is playing it.
I get happy just thinking about the acoustic. I think I named her once, but she’s been sitting in the closet too long to remember.
I used to dream of writing songs as powerfully as Rich Mullins, of playing guitar as magically as Phil Keaggy, and of singing as soulfully as Keith Green.
You see, Dad marveled at those musicians, and he didn’t marvel much. He rated a singer by how many body parts he would give to sing like them, maybe a couple toes or his left arm for a really good singer.
I think I wanted Dad to marvel at me. I would have done most anything for him to say I was good enough to sing and play in church. I hated that I wasn’t.
“Why do you have to be good at singing?” Dad asked, “Everybody is good at something different. Why does it matter that you can’t sing?”
I didn’t know. I just wanted it badly. I understood intellectually what Dad was saying. Statistically few are good musicians, and everyone else is still valuable. But I cried that I wasn’t good. I wanted to earn Dad’s praise, and I was jealous when he praised others.
“You just don’t think that way, Mary,” Dad would say when I showed him my lyrics. “You’re too linear.” I thought he was crushing my dreams, that I’d prove him wrong. But he was just telling the truth.
Dad bought half of that beautiful guitar, whatever I named her, for my graduation present. She’s in most of my graduation pictures. The sentimental, aesthetic side of me loves her. But she’s sitting in my closest because she’s someone else’s dream, not mine.
In just the last few months of really taking time to write, I’ve come alive in ways I never imagined. I feel cheesy and charismatic saying it, but writing makes all of life more colorful. It makes me a better wife and a more empathetic friend. When I write, I feel like I’m sitting in the same room as God. I get lost in the high of writing and have trouble with pesky distractions of everyday life.
My guitar is one of those distractions.
I still think my Martin is beautiful. In heaven, my house will still have cherry hardwood floors, floor to ceiling bookshelves, and a beautiful acoustic guitar. Probably a baby grand as well, even though I remember nothing from my years of piano lessons. But the beauty of music just inspires me to do what I really love—write.
My parents were never the type to encourage their children’s whimsical dreams. But they helped me find my real dreams, and provided a solid foundation to build them on. They helped me realize to commit to a real dream I have to say no to many others.
The Martin is not my dream. She’s someone else’s. The painful goodbye to my closet acoustic breaks the chains of jealousy. I don’t want someone else’s gift anymore. I’m happier than ever enjoying my own. Now, it is divine to imagine someone else happier than ever with my Martin.
Do what makes you feel like you’re sitting in a room with God.
Photo credit Aomoon Taipa.