September 12, 2010

Your Life has Strings Attached to It.

Practicing some chords for the umpteenth time, it hit me that a guitar has a lot to teach about living. Not the need to practice or the ability to face your musical limits without getting upset. But, in the way a guitar is built. Its purpose is to make something beautiful from different parts. Isn’t that what building a life is all about? Consider these parallels.

There are six strings. Each string creates a different sound. Playing each string in the correct order makes music. Ignoring their differences creates chaos. Each of us has the power as an individual to create something meaningful and lasting. We can combine the separate facets of our personality to create a life that is varied and meaningful.

When the separate strings are played together in a certain way a musical chord is created. If the strings are held down in a random order with no planning or awareness the sounds created are not very pleasant. Even though we are individuals if we allow our skills and talents to be combined with others that blend is much more productive. Learning to be part of a whole is a critical life skill to learn.

There are six tuning keys on most guitars. Each one tightens or loosens the individual strings to keep the instrument in tune. Adjusting the strings must be done every few days. In the same way you should check the “tune” of your life even if it is just a slight turn of that key. Everything you learn, every new experience, every success and every failure should cause an adjustment in how you live your life.

The body of an acoustical guitar is basically a hollow box with a hole in the middle. Until someone takes action nothing happens. When the strings are plucked, that hollow space is filled with sound that pours out of the hole. Only when action is taken does the potential of the guitar become reality. We can read, learn, and plan. But until you take action nothing positive comes out of your space.

There are 20 frets (those horizontal metal strips) on the neck of a typical guitar. If fingers are placed correctly, specific musical notes are created. The frets don’t cause the music. But, without their guidance the music produced is too random to be pleasing. For us, guidance is very helpful in completing a task. Whether it is a mentor, your own experience, or education, gratefully accepting guidance is a mark of true maturity.

A guitar as a metaphor for your life? Both are made to accomplish specific things. You only have to pay attention to how one works to apply the same techniques to the other. Obviously I had some fun with the metaphor of a guitar representing a life. But, the subject is serious. The importance of using your individual skills and the power of the group are some of the keys to success.

Have you ever thought of your life as being represented by a musical instrument, an animal, a car? Let your mind wander for a bit and see if anything springs to mind. Brainstorming is an important part of creativity.

If  you'd like to share what you came up with, I'd love to read it. I bet you have an even better idea than the guitar.

 If you have your own blog, please leave a link to your blog along with your comment. Promoting each other is part of what blogging is all about.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to practice.


  1. I really like the tuning metaphor. Our lives are subject to many twists and turns (get it...) that could have a positive or a negative impact on us. Unless we step back to revisit and get in tune with them, our song of life might not play true.

  2. Thanks, Dave. "Our song of life might not play true" is a great way of expressing it. Regular tuneups are good for cars and people!

    Note: Dave has an excellent web site on retirement. Check it out by clicking on "LoveBeingRetired" above.