Sunday, February 10, 2008

Small Changes

After a couple of years of upheaval, a certain amount of predictability and routine in my life is actually welcome. But never one to sit still, I am constantly trying new things, planning new projects, veering off onto new paths. I've sometimes wondered if this is an indication of dissatisfaction or of seeking something I lack in my life. Perhaps. But it doesn't really matter, because doing these things makes me feel energized, alive, happy.

This week I installed new strings on my guitar - the first time I've ever done it, I've always let the music store guy do it for me. But I've seen it done many times and felt sure I could do it. It took me two hours to change six strings. Some of them I wound, unwound, and rewound several times before I felt I had it right. I've decided a little instruction will help me the next time. But for now the strings have that new, bright, clear tone the old strings had lost, and I'll be good for a couple of months. I'm mostly satisfied with the result.

I'm not afraid to ask for or admit I need help. In my painting class I am learning some helpful techniques. But I'm also learning something else. When I apply brush and oil to canvas, I have my own way of seeing how it should be and it's sometimes hard for me to recreate my instructor's vision. But I need to pay attention and learn the basics and not be too quick to launch off on my own.

Discipline, training, and practice helped me become a moderately good musician, and I believe that applies to almost everything that one can learn in life. And formal instruction is not always necessary. This week I was recounting for a friend how I gained a background and knowledge in computers that led to my current occupation of writing software manuals. None of that background was formal, yet it was a real education nonetheless.

At age 60 I still have a desire to know more, to do more, to see more. Slow down a little a friend said to me. We are growing older and won't always be able to keep up this pace. Small changes. Nothing drastic. Ease into a pace that is less taxing on my aging personal resources.

I rearranged the sofa in my little TV room yesterday, just moving the old sewing maching cabinet that serves as my end table to the left from the right. Such a small change - everything else remained the same. And yet the room feels so different and better.

Sometimes with small changes, we lose nothing and actually improve things.

Still I do relish the whirlwind pace that drives my days. But I will consider my friend's advice. I may slow it down a bit. Maybe. Tomorrow. Maybe.

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