Friday, October 1, 2010

Old is best

A little known fact is that after sticking to something for 20 years, duct tape turns to gooey tar of such epic proportion that scientists theorize it is what finally did in the dinosaurs. They believe now that La Brea tarpits where the bones of many extinct creatures lie is made up of thousands of rolls of old black duct tape glue. Thus I should have handled the 20 year old duct tape holding the guitar case together more carefully. I won't go into detail about how I finally unstuck my fingers from each other, but suffice it to say that soap, detergent, and Peppermint Schnapps don't work. (To be perfectly scientifically accurate, the dinosaurs would not have been driven to dive into the Duct Tape tarpits if they had not opened their math books to discover that they were to learn about "antilogarithms" even before they had a firm handle on logatrithms themselves. This is a gruesome story for another day.)

Asherel was to have her first official guitar lesson and would use the faithful old Yamaha my dad gave me over 30 years ago. It still sounds great, and was the guitar me, Matthias, and now Asherel learned on. The case is the original case and Arvo had duct-taped the seams holding it together. It had held up like that for 20 years..... longer than the original sewn seams had lasted. But while mangy old gray duct tape cases are fine for boys, girls cannot walk into their first guitar lesson hauling such a travesty.  Hence, while I was removing duct tape cement from my fingers, now glued together like a shovel, Asherel was busily re-duct taping the case with neon green, fresh new tape.  Asherel has shades of my father in her- new activities are sometimes pursued less for the activity itself, and more for all the things one can buy for the activity.
"How old is this guitar?"
"Thirty years or so."
Pregnant silence.
"If you stick with it, and like guitar, we will buy you a new guitar. Be careful with this one. It is precious to me. My dad gave it to me."
Asherel liked the new duct taped case and we marched happily off to her first lesson, secure in the fact that I had been working with her for over a month now on the guitar. We could play 3 songs and had a repertoire of 6 chords, and one strum (up-down up-down up-down....down-up down-up ooops up-down).

The teacher, Lenny, first asked if we knew how to tune a guitar.
"Yes, we use an iPod for that," I answered. I think Asherel was a little embarrassed by this admission.
Lenny had a very expensive gadget with buttons and lights and meters and it was made of metal and chrome.  He cocked an eyebrow over our iPod tuning.
"Have you ever tried that?" I asked. Surprisingly, he had not. He took the guitar from Asherel and did some complicated maneuvers with the expensive gadget.
"Hmmm," he said,  "The iPod did a pretty good job.  So what kind of guitar have we here?"
"A very old one," I conceded, "Over thirty years ago my dad gave it to me."
Lenny did stupendous things with lightning fast fingers and the guitar sweetly sang out.
"Nice guitar," he said, handing it back," And since you know how to tune it with an iPod, we will go on to lesson two." Lesson Two was reading music, which Asherel already knows how to do, so we moved on to Lesson Three. The half hour flew by, and when we sat back in the car, Asherel told me it was fun.

If only antilogarithms were so easy!

My old guitar had performed beautifully and it made me realize anew how richly blessed I have been in my life. So many fond memories, so varied and wonderful decades of experiences, so many cherished old momentos from loved ones....Anders' beloved old "blankie, Matt's orthopedic baby shoes turning his little toes out, Asherel's favorite stuffed toy.... Sometimes old things really are better. Sometimes old truths ring truer. We scurry after so many of the latest and greatest while in a corner of our hearts, often unnoticed, the Ancient of Days gathers dust. Such a simple old remedy of all the ailments of life.
Come to me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, He whispers.

Luke 5:38-39 (New International Version)

38No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.' "

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