There sits, on a stand in my living room, a sweet old parlor guitar. Her body is slender and petite, with a lustrous patina and a belly full of stories to tell. Scratched into the back are these words:
Thenton A. ChambersFrom: T.M. Dillingham1880
It is light as a whisper, but has a pretty rich sound nonetheless. I had the inside braced so it would hold its tune -- invested a good bit into this dandy little instrument. But there it sits, in the living room, where only short term visitors sit, their hands on their knees as they balance on the outside edge of the couch.
The poor neglected creature has a broken string, and since the strings I most often use are steel strings, and this one is made for nylon ones, I have not replaced it. It’s been months, even years, sitting there unused. I feel a twinge of sorrowful regret when I see it, tapping that spot in my brain where I am supposed to remember stuff, reminding myself to go buy new strings. There are songs tucked into that guitar that remain unsung, and unwritten, because it has only 5 strings.
My daughter, Sarah, has gifted hands. Since she was small, pretty much everything they touched became art. Her piano teacher told me when she was nine years old that she could no longer teach her anything new, that I would probably need to take her to the U of U so she could progress. Her hands were made for pianos and pencils and paintbrushes. When there is a paintbrush in her hands, Sarah sees the world differently. She sees it through the eyes of the poet. And yet, because her daily tasks require her hands to change diapers and wash dishes and cook meals… and then examine little children and swab throats and stitch up wounds…because her hands are busy with these tasks, her paints have dried up. Her brushes gather dust, waiting for her to return.
Brene Brown wrote:
“I used to think you were either creative or you weren’t. Now I know we either use our creativity or we don’t. When we don’t use it it isn’t benign, our creativity doesn’t just dissipate, it’s malignant and it turns into rage or grief.”
My Sarah needs her paints. Or her piano. Or some chorus in which to sing her songs.
And I need to stop ditzing around and get myself a new set of strings for this old parlor guitar.
May we, none of us, allow our paints dry up. May our brushes always be supple and damp and our instruments be strung, tuned, and passionately played.