Friday, May 1, 2009

Revision two

Guitar = Blisters
Guitar = Music
Blisters = Music

I finally started playing the guitar again, and now that I have, I wish I had never stopped. I'm frustrated by the fact that I have to relearn so much, and the fact that I could have been learning so much more in the time when I wasn't playing. The appropriate phrase is "so much for regrets." but I refuse to use it. When I fail, I will pick myself back up, but to disregard the regret of failure does nothing to motivate me to avoid similar failure. I hope never to forget the past at the expense of the future.

(I had an idea that I wanted to get across, but I feel that this is going to ramble a lot before I get there. I'll call this revision one and won't post it right away, the only part of revision one that you'll get to see is this bit in parentheses)

(it might ramble a lot anyway)

My fingers are blistered and hurting. Normally, I'm cool about handling pain, I don't like taking medication, and I usually don't whine about it when I'm hurting. I mention that my fingers blistered and hurting not because I want sympathy or attention, but because I want to make a point. My fingers are blistered because I started playing guitar again, and because I hadn't played guitar in a while, my fingers weren't calloused, so they blistered.

At this point, you're probably thinking "Micah, you are whining, what you said before was a lie. Do you want me to kiss it and make it better?" The answer is no.

Because this is about music, and what it takes to get there. It took blisters to make music. Doesn't that seem strange, that making something beautiful should involve something painful? Why does making music have to involve having your hand on fire while you make it? It does, and I want to know why. I understand why the guitar equals blisters, I understand why the guitar equals music, the only logical conclusion is that blisters equal music, but I don't understand why that is.

Another thing I don't understand: Why did it take the pain of the Cross to save humanity?

The Cross = pain, blood, death.
The Cross = Salvation
Pain, blood, and death = Salvation

Maybe I don't understand why, but it takes pain to make peace. It takes ugliness to make beauty. And so when my fingers feel like they're on fire, I can't stop playing, knowing that the pain is part of the music. Knowing that the hurt is part of the art. Knowing that the sacrifice is part of the masterpiece.

But then there are callouses. I can't tell if this is where the analogy breaks down or not. Because callouses make it so that you don't feel pain when you're playing the guitar. But doesn't that mean that we can have beauty without pain? Not really, you have to get the blisters before you can have the callouses. I don't know if I want callouses, when I play, I want it to be because my soul is on fire. And when I hurt, it feels like that fire is physically expressed, that the music I create is a representation of the fire within my soul, is validated by the pain. If I had callouses, I wouldn't feel that. I would feel that the music is still trapped inside, still burning within. I feel that callouses would make the music too easy, that without the pain, I wouldn't love the beauty.

When people say that you're a calloused person, they mean one of two things. Either they mean that you have callouses on your skin from walking around barefoot and working without gloves and playing the guitar. Maybe they mean that. If somebody tells you that you're calloused, it would be more pleasant for you to pretend that they mean that. Because the other type of calloused isn't nice. It means that you have a calloused heart. A tough, unfeeling one. Ouch. Except that if they're right, you wouldn't actually think "ouch" because you're calloused. It's either win-win, or loss-loss. (I told you this would ramble)

So wait, I thought that callouses were a good thing, they make you play better. Yeah, okay, maybe. But a calloused heart, does that make you love better? Heck no! I don't know. Maybe my analogy really is breaking down. But I'm still not sure if I want callouses. Somebody said "if beauty is pain, maybe beauty isn't worth it." I say that it's the pain that makes the beauty worth it. I can't express that mathematically, it defies mathematical laws.

Beauty = pain
Callouses =/= pain
Beauty =/= callouses

It doesn't make sense. Maybe it's a bad analogy, but I for some very irrational feeling, the pain doesn't matter to me. When I play, there's just joy.


  1. hm. Interesting analogy. but why cling to pain if God gives a way for it to not hurt? how do we know it's not just a replay of what Ransom described in Perelandra?

    "There was an eldil who clung longer- who has been clinging since before the worlds were made."
    "But the old good would cease to be good at all if he did that."
    "Yes. It has ceased. And he still clings."
    Pain is good when it brings beauty, but should we keep hurting when we don't have to?

    I don't want to spoil the loveliness of this post, but I don't know if it's completely right.

    How can we be wise as serpents without losing our fragility?

  2. Micah, you quoted Hannah in this post? I'm picking my jaw off the floor.

    How about this: the calluses are the scars. The reminder of the pain that refined the process of creating beauty. The reminder of the pain necessary to bring peace. Because as important as the pain is, it isn't /all/ there is.

    Or maybe the analogy just breaks down. Although, I personally hate calluses, so if I were as sick skilled with the guitar as you, I'd probably mourn having to give up smooth fingers for making music. The sacrifices we make for art. "Knowing that the sacrifice is part of the masterpiece."

    Analogies are win.

  3. I probably should have waited until revision three.

    Rebecca, I like that Perelandra quote, I think you're right about not clinging to the pain. No matter how glorious the pain is, it will always have its place, but the end goal is beauty. Pain shouldn't surpass beauty, the only purpose of pain is to create beauty.

    Michael, I like using callouses as scars, reminders of the pain it takes to create beauty. Because even if we've come to the point where the pain is no longer needed to create beauty, we shouldn't forget the pain it took to get us there. I've often wondered why Jesus had scars, if he could resurrect his body, why didn't he make it whole... maybe that's the reason.

  4. And... why did I think that Hayley was Michael? Because I'm stupid. That's why. Michael, say something so that I don't look so stupid.

  5. I'm Michael, saying something so that Micah will feel better.


    I don't think the analogy necessary "breaks down" (not there, anyway-all analogies break down eventually), it just needs to be qualified. I definitely agree about the scars. We go through pain to achieve beauty in some way, shape or form, not for pain's sake. I'm not sure if anything should be for pain's sake.

    I think it's interesting that the more pain you endure, the easier it is to endure. The more you play, the more callouses you build up. I think there's another analogy in there: the more we persevere, the more grace God gives us. His grace is sufficient to cover anything we do, so why not persevere after beautiful things?