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
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,
, 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
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.