Monday, April 27, 2009

Tuning a Life

I've been a guitar player since I was a kid. I don't really speak the language of audio science, but I know that when two tones are "out of phase," their sound waves meet at less than optimum points and there is a loss of quality. Things don't sound good.

Musical instruments respond to their environment and to the exuberance with which they're played. It's their nature to go in and out of tune. Out-of-tune strings resonate at incompatible frequencies. They sound bad. They're "out of phase." Tuning your instrument brings its various tones into phase.

So does tuning a life.

When you're playing your guitar, you don't waste time wishing its out-of-tune strings were in tune, wondering how the strings got out of tune in the first place, thinking there is something wrong with a guitar that needs tuning. You just tune the damn thing and get on with your song. It's not a moral issue. The guitar doesn't need counseling or coaching or a 12-step program to help it stay in tune. What it needs is to be played, and listened to.

In other words, it needs care and attention.

And sometimes it needs a new set of strings.

Lives go in and out of tune all the time. Phases shift. Resonance decays. And as anyone who's ever put a new set of strings on a guitar knows, new strings need to be tuned more frequently than strings that have settled in.

Here's what I'm learning: that it's not the change itself that changes you. It's the care and attention you give yourself after you've made your change. Now is the time to listen very closely, and pay attention to the resonance. Because just putting on new strings isn't enough. They'll still sound like crap until they're tuned. And re-tuned. And tuned once again.

* * *

Dave Pollard at How to Save the World wrote a wonderful and thought-provoking review of 101 Reasons Why I'm an Unschooler this weekend, and it rocked my world, let me tell you. I don't know quite how to act, other than with care and attention, and a whole boatload of gratitude. Thank you, Dave.

And thank you, wonderful reader, be you new or returning. I'm grateful for your presence. Now let's tune up, and make some music.


  1. I can relate to this very much right now. You have found a wonderful way to put something I have been thinking about into words. I always smile when I see a new post from you - thank you :-)

  2. Awww, Phoenix... what a nice thing to say. Thanks for making my day.


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