“You’re going to bar the 7th fret and make an E-minor chord,” he showed me. “Then take your little finger off.”
I cupped my guitar and forcefully pressed my first finger down onto the 7th fret of the fretboard. I put my three other fingers down rightfully so in the shape of an A-minor chord, and then took my pinky off.
“Reminds me a little of Santana,” my guitar teacher said. “That’s an E-minor 7th chord.”
I strummed my guitar. It had this smooth and warm tone. It felt somewhat of a less harsh version of a minor chord with a bluesier ring.
I was on my way to playing the beginning of Jason Mraz and Tristan Prettyman’s moody tune, “Shy That Way,” and I had no idea how much this song would shape the rest of my guitar-playing.
I think this was one of the first songs I learned that taught me how to play with soul…with feeling. When you hear a chord and instantly feel this groove rise within you, you want to pluck and strum your guitar in a way that induces more of that soul-loving goodness. You wanna love it.
Over the years, I’ve developed friendships with people (mentors, I might say) who are older, more experienced and successful in their respective careers. They, in some weird way, have willingly reached out their hand to talk to, help and assist me in any way. It was like they believed in my potential.
I’ve always been drawn to these kind of people. I don’t know why–maybe it’s the old soul in me that can relate or find common ground, but I always valued their wisdom and encouragement. I wanted to take the things they said to heart and make things happen in my own life.
I guess that’s what you get when you’ve been a shy kid your entire life. I was always itching for ways to express myself. I wasn’t the most confident kid, but I wanted to find my “groove,” my element, my greatest potential.
Music has a powerful way of moving humanity. It’s one of the truest, most honest ways of communicating with just a song that can stir the soul. You could be listening to a pop tune and dance your ass off. You could be listening to a singer-songwriter bare their story of a lost love or hometown and you’d feel less alone. Or you could rage all your angst and anger out with some melodramatic rock tune. Either way, it’s one of the single most important forms of art that allows the artist to move an audience and, in turn, move oneself.
As I was just moving back into my home a little more than a month ago, I came across some old letters from family and old friends. Some particularly moved me:
“I know you might say you’re alone, but you’re not. You’re surrounded by so many people who love you.”
“I sometimes wish I were more like you when I was your age. You’re more outgoing than I was and have so many friends who love you.”
“I know you like to write and play guitar. Keep doing it. It’s the one thing that’ll get you through any hardship and will make the going less tough.”
“You are capable of so much more than you think.”
“I like to think that I see a lot of myself in you. I see so much potential in you for God to be let in.”
“The world would be a better place if there were sweeter people like you in this world!”
I don’t mean to share these passages for the intent of showing myself off, but rather, for realizing that reading these messages 4+ years later has put me in a position where I feel outside of myself. Rather than hearing these things for the first time, I’m looking from the outside looking in.
It felt like I was reading about a girl who didn’t believe in herself; who felt alone in her dreams; who so many people saw potential in and were rooting for; who so many were touched by; and who so many continue to read up on, listen to and check up on for whatever reason.
When people see me, they often see some crazy positive, optimistic girl. I sometimes want to slap myself in the face for being so positive all the time, but I think a part of the reason I am so positive is because I know what it feels like to be empty–to be surrounded by negative thoughts and negative people. Rather than make others feel that same way, I exude positivity. It’s the one thing that keeps one going in life.
Even as a little girl, I knew there was something so powerful about music that I couldn’t get enough of. I felt empty without it; I didn’t feel like myself without it. It was the one thing that kept driving me.
These past couple of weeks have been tough on me, I’ll admit. And I’ve been careful not to distract myself with doing too many things that would deter from what I really want.
I like to share the things and moments that inspire me. I feel that creating that space of love and inspiration is powerful. Just like music, it creates a moment and a feeling where everything feels alright. You feel alright.
You feel lost without your music. So you do everything you can to keep it alive.
Just keep it alive… For the sake of having something that continually excites you. Good things will come when you drive the right people to you.