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Finding E

By H.G. Miller

After paying a ten dollar cover charge to get into this bar where “some hot chick who plays guitar” was performing, I soon found myself disappointed on two counts.

First off, the hot chick wasn't what I would consider a stunning beauty (nose piercings and Jesus tattoos have never really been my thing), and secondly, after paying for the privilege of watching this tortured artist, I had but four dollars left on my persons.

The bartender rudely informed me that my meager amount of cash would warrant nothing more than a highly-carbonated, non-alcoholic , cola beverage.

“With a fifty-cent tip,” he flippantly remarked. I sheepishly declined and turned away from the bar with a light mist in my eyes. Poor people have feelings too, you know.

Without the aid of my favorite lady, bourbon, and all of her sweet, sweet fuzzy feelings about my head, I was forced to enjoy the music with the clarity of a death-row inmate upon finding out the last second phone call was just the governor asking “is he dead yet?”

If you hadn't noticed, I'm one whose mind tends to wander, and as this particular “hot chic” played in a band consisting of bongos, drums, synthesizer piano, two guitars and a flutist, there were enough options to keep any seven year old with ADD in a constant state of euphoria.

Upon occasion, I fancy myself a guitar player, and while this group didn't play to my particular interests (I cite Billy Joel and Metallica as my top musical influences), I did admire how they managed to find a melody out of the many available noises.

I imagine this group of musicians is a little more efficient, but whenever my friends and I get together to play, we usually spend about twenty-five minutes just trying to get our guitars in tune with each other.

During this time, everything centers around the low E string. Everybody plucks away at their low Es, patiently tweaking the tension on our strings until this stunningly hollow echo takes over the room.

No matter how many instruments play in a band, all of them must at some point be able to play the same E. That hollow sound means perfection. It means sync. Philosophically, it's the equivalent of Zen.

Lately, life has begun feeling a lot like that band on stage. A multitude of instruments playing against each other, each trying to be louder and more energetic than the rest.

For a while, it seemed I was just coasting along, plucking away on my lonesome six string, not needing to do anything but keep it in tune with itself. And then, well, life happened.

Started this night class. Found out my client at work will be gone in less than three months. Learned that my roommate would be moving out in about five weeks. Have a friend getting married in six. Still need to make more money. Still want to have a girlfriend.

To quote the King: “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…”

So, while I stood there soberly watching this band play, I began to find new focus in the madness that's taking over my life. (And, no comments about “why are you at a bar if you have so much to do, anyway?”)

All of these instruments in my life are playing their solos at once, and I'm having little luck in stopping them. So, I guess I should stop worrying so much about quelling their melodies as just keeping them all in tune.

Does that sound stupid?

Well, think about it a little bit. What are we really trying to do most of the time in our life? Keep a balance, right? Keep it all under control, and keep things from getting out of hand.

Where's the fun in that? I kind of like it when the walls start crashing down and I find myself in Buster Keaton's open window that somehow passed over me on its way to the ground.

That's that low E. That calming tone when all of the instruments are screaming for attention, and yet somehow we know that there is a central note that keeps it all together. Keeps it all in check, under control and easily in hand.

I have learned to accept that I can rarely turn down the volume on the eclectic mesh of music playing in and around my life. But, I'm getting better at tweaking the strings. Stretching and bending each note until it matches all of the rest. Keeping my life in tune. Finding E.