If you have ever heard the song “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams, you know the famous line, “I got my first real six-string, bought it at the five and dime. Played it ‘til my fingers bled, was the summer of ‘69”. For anyone who has begun the venture of teaching themselves guitar, these lines are all too real. I have tried to teach myself guitar numerous times over the years with all attempts leading to a moment where one of my parents made some sassy comment about how it sounded like the guitar was dying, leading me to retire the instrument to the corner of my room where it would sit for another year before I picked it up again.
I am fickle with interests, so having an on-again-off-again relationship with learning guitar is not that appalling for me. Well, scratch that. It is appalling that I never commit to actually learning a skill fully, but it’s not shocking for me at all to cyclically take a hand at the guitar. It’s not just guitar, either.
I went through a skateboarding phase in middle school. I bought the cheapest, worst board on eBay I could find, amped myself up with my ridiculously comfortable DC’s, then proceeded to wipe out mercilessly time and time again on the sidewalks of Orchard Park. I subscribed to Transworld Skateboarding magazine and became a regular mall rat, toting my skateboard under my arm for the world to see. It didn’t matter to me that, even after a few months, I was still the most uncoordinated, unbalanced person in my friend group. I was having fun.
Just before I moved back to school this year, my mom found my old skateboard in our basement. She pulled it out and put it on my bed. I just asked, “Mom, why did you put this here?”
“I don’t know. I just thought you might want it at school with you.” Yes, mom. I want to bring the board I haven’t touched in 4 years that was responsible for far too many road rash moments and embarrassing face plants. That board is the symbolism of my unhealthy relationship with the ground. But really, I shouldn’t have been so sarcastic. I should have packed it in my car and made it my mission to finish learning how to actually ride it.
You see, I have participated in a plethora of activities and hobbies, including but not limited to, speed cup stacking, widdling, animation, soccer, bowling, competitive shooting, trivia competitions, spelling bees, horseback riding, skateboarding, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, horseshoes, storm chasing, etc. I am a girl of many random and non-cohesive talents. It’s an addiction, in all honesty. My next venture may involve Civil War re-enacting. Or rapping. Maybe I will get my diving license.
All in all, I know I need to find one thing to do for a while. I need something to devote my time and efforts to. I need a genuine passion. Right now, I am making it my mission to learn guitar. I currently know six chords and how to get a noise citation. In a year, maybe I will know enough to write a mediocre song about something every musician in the history of time has touched upon.
It’s more than just a personal challenge, though. Taking the time to invest in yourself by learning new skills is one of the wisest things you can do. I read an article recently citing that a major habit of most successful people is that they invest their time and money on improving themselves, whether that be by getting a diploma or learning how to fly a plane. So instead of buying the jet pack I have been saving for, I will channel my inner Oprah and learn guitar. I will take the new set of speed stacking cups I have to break the world record (I can at least try). I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. To train myself is my one true cause.
Now I challenge every Gannon student to learn something new outside of classes. In fact, I challenge every member of the Gannon community. Learn to read music, become great at bowling, teach yourself piano or learn Morse code. It may seem random and irrelevant to your major, but there’s more to learning than what comes out of your over-priced textbook.
Ignore that whole “new year’s resolution” nonsense. Your new year starts today and you should take it upon yourself to improve your skillset and who you are. If I can fight through my screaming fingertips to learn the measly six chords I know, then you can do it too. You can learn accordion and finally form that polka band you have been thinking about.
You have four years here in college, so use it well. Then, when you’re 40 years old and you feel bored with your job, you can use your horseback riding skills to live on a dude ranch in Montana.