March 6, 2017

On Giving Up

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

There’s nothing bad about giving up unless you have a terrible reason to do so.

I’ve given up on a lot of inconsequential things, as well as important ones that have affected my life greatly.

I played guitar in a band which started in 2005. Because I love music so much, I asked my parents to fund guitar lessons that started in 2002. Before that, I tried my hardest in training for piano for two years but it just wasn’t the right instrument for me. While Ben Folds inspired me to take up the keys, I was getting more into heavy metal at that time. Their sheer aggression created by the string enamored me to train for the ax instead.

Over the years, I considered my playing skills to be a “3” out of 10. I’m not bad at playing guitar, but I’m not the best one either. My technique is unrefined and I’m not a very good lead player – I play the same scale over and over again and don’t have the tremolo and bending technique required to produce really emotive solos.

Nonetheless, I was blessed in being part of a band that played in different locations and crowds. I was even part of an annual music competition where we were part of the finalists. It was a wild ride, with camaraderies we formed and booze we drank.

However, I left the band at 2013 and sold my guitar the year after.

I wasn’t getting any better as a guitar. I was playing the same way and never improving despite my constant practices. More importantly, life happened. I can’t commit to staying up at 3 a.m. waiting for us to play in a bar with only a handful of people. I can no longer dedicate time to practice and become a better guitarist in the process.

There was a moment while we were recording my guitar parts in a studio that I was always stumbling on my notes and had lots of buzzing from my guitar. It all boils down to technique and because I have poorly developed ones, I had to retake a lot of my parts. When playing live, technique isn’t as emphasize because you play through the music and feed off the energy of the crowd. But when in a controlled setting, every note matters. It was an embarrassing experience for me, which planted seeds in my mind that guitar playing is not for me.

As far as selling my guitar, we were in debt at that time and wanted cash fast. Come to think of it, it was a foolhardy decision – the guitar is well-maintained and has a value of almost $1,000 if you count the customized parts I bought for it.

However, if I were talking to my younger self right now, I would probably tell him to keep playing and find a teacher who will help you develop a more refined technique. I would even fund him to go attend to his lessons regularly. Guitar playing is all about discipline and I just didn’t have a lot of that before.

Today, I haven’t played an electric guitar since my last gig. I own an acoustic guitar that I barely used because I’m swamped with my interests in digital marketing.

Do I regret not playing anymore and selling my guitar? Not really. I do believe it to be a waste but it is what it is. There are things in our lives that are far more important than our hobbies and desires, so it’s best to stick with those, if not keep your hobbies to a minimum so you can be effective at your responsible. Also, I am happy with where I am right now in life. I could always buy another guitar and retrain myself – only this time, I will get the lessons that I need to take to get better. But maybe soon.

I share this story because it’s not easy to quit on things that you love or have a passion for. But sometimes, you need to make difficult decisions in life for the betterment of your loved ones, if not for your own development. At the same time, I believe my estrangement from guitar will come to an end soon. If you truly love doing something, then you’ll find a way to do them soon.

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