I’m a guitarist. I’m definitely not advanced in skill level, but I am proficient…on good days. Recently, I was introduced to an advanced guitarist by the name of Todd Pritchard. He has an incredible Instagram account filled with clips of him nailing various original and cover songs. I was inspired by Mr. Pritchard to dabble a little in what he calls the “modern fingerstyle” technique. Upon signing up for his newsletter, he sent a tutorial explaining how to play his rendition of “Killing Me Softly.” As I began fumbling through this incredibly challenging (at least for me) piece, I was reminded of when I first began learning how to play guitar (back in middle school) and what that taught me in my ongoing quest of becoming a better Gentleman.
If you know or are learning how to play an instrument, I’m sure you can relate! Learning any art is a very time consuming journey. There is little to no immediate gratification from the beginnings of learning to play, but we trust that something will come of it. We hit wrong notes…then stop…then start from the beginning again. We repeat this process hundreds of times. Then finally, when all hope seems to be lost, we add one more note or chord or beat to the phrase we are trying to perfect. Progress!
This is a characteristic that I am far from perfecting, but I am certain that learning how to play guitar has helped me become more patient.
Honestly, doesn’t the whole concept of “learning” presuppose some level of humility? In order to learn, one must have a lack of knowledge, right? Learning how to play an instrument is certainly no different. Even if you choose to teach yourself how to play, you have the knowledge that there exists someone out there who is better than you. That’s a very humbling thought.
Humility is such a strong character trait to possess. Living at peace with the idea that “I have things to learn” and “there are others who are better than me” is not an easy thing to do. It’s much more glamorous to simply quit the things we aren’t great at and boast in the things that we are very good at, but that is not the way of the gentleman. Even when we perfect an art, the way of the Gentleman is humility – not boastful pride. Why not take the opportunity to learn to be humble when we truly have nothing about which to boast!
This trait goes hand-in-hand with Patience. I didn’t stick with baseball past middle school, so I didn’t get to experience what it was like to be a starting varsity pitcher. I didn’t read Harry Potter in it’s entirety, so I have no clue what all of the juicy details are that I’m missing out on from only watching the movies. I did, however, stick with soccer through my high school team’s terrible first and second years, so I was able to play on my college’s JV team. I also stuck with learning how to play guitar to the point that I can now jam out to some of my favorite tunes. Being dedicated in all good pursuits is crucial for the modern gentleman, especially since we have more distractions than ever at our fingertips.
Fellow gentleman, I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to learn how to play a new song, learn how to play a new instrument, or learn how to do something that you do not yet know how to do. Be patient with yourself as you learn a new skill. Be humble so to take the posture of eagerness to learn. Be dedicated in your pursuit of achieving your goal. If we can do these things, we will take one step forward in the pursuit of becoming better gentlemen.
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