Guitar Therapy: How One Enraged Old Guitar Player Deals with Tragedy

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bw-guitarist

I chose long ago to be a musician so I could enjoy my work, be creative and always be part of something that brings people joy. I always look for humor in situations, and diffuse tension with laughter. So I’ve had a really tough time this week processing the random, pointless violence we witnessed in the Boston Marathon bombing. I can’t fathom how selfish and evil someone has to be to initiate these kinds of senseless, destructive acts, and ruin the lives of innocent people who had no participation in the perpetrators’ problems.

Consequently, I’ve been a little numb the past few days. It has really bothered me, seeing pictures of the victims: beautiful, happy people at the finish line, celebrating the achievements of others. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. And the unfairness of it—the complete lack of any justification—gnaws at me, like I’m sure it does many of you.

The Comfort of an Old Friend

bw-guitaristIf there is one place I turn for consolation in times like this, it is to my guitar. I know that sounds horribly trite. But in my frustration, the guitar helps me voice emotions in a way I otherwise couldn’t.  I haven’t cried, but my playing has expressed my sadness. I can’t scream all my anger, but I can rage as furiously as I need. There’s no way I could write a note to the victims’ families that would adequately express my sympathy or ease their profound pain, but I can create a melody that is bittersweet and hopeful, and dedicate it to the hope that peace will somehow touch all of our broken hearts.

None of this can reconcile the events. Still, when I play, it helps. I’m able to hold on to something safe and familiar. My guitar helps me process the ache and the anger, to articulate my sorrow—and ultimately, my faith—and lean on my old creative instincts while I get past the shock.

Finding Your Peace

As musicians and guitar players, I imagine we’re all artists, to some degree; all given to grief during events like these. I hope others of you will find solace in your own creativity. I would love to learn that someone out there was so inspired by their sadness or anger or optimism that they’ve taken it out on their guitar and created something that touches and inspires others. It would be great to think that the guitar-playing community—in the midst of all the evil and stupidity—is actually doing what our random home page banner sometimes suggests: “Making the world a better place, six strings at a time.”

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Ronnie Brooks

Ronnie Brooks can be found lurking around Nashville, TN, where he writes magazine articles, Web content, songs, ad copy, jingles (little songs), and the occasional thank-you note. His songs have been recorded by Kid Rock, Joe Perry and Molly Hatchet; he’s played bass for Chuck Berry, produced Dolly Parton, performed on several Super Bowl ads, and seen the Beatles play live.

There are 3 comments

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    Thanks for this. Your posting catches me up on how you are doing and what you’ve been thinking about.

    None of us will control what’s in tomorrow’s headline, but we’ll all choose what we think and how we feel about it. Maintaining humility and gratitude is challenging and important. The heart and mind work together to see us through. Your heart merges with your mind in your guitar. It’s a beautiful thing.

    Feed a healthy heart. Go Vertical! Kj

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