This blog may have given the impression that I am some vague sort of cove who just drifts through life like snow in a stiff breeze. Yes, my attempts to empty a small storage unit may be close to reaching 3.5 years (though some progress has recently been made). OK, I may have taken 6 months to fix my bookshelves to the wall to enable them to carry the books from the aforementioned storage unit without the risk of their owner being crushed beneath his library (though, what a way to go!). I’ll admit it took more than 21 years to organise a guitar lesson. However, occasionally my cup of motiviation is filled to overflowing with dedication and purpose.
This last week has seen two examples of my commitment to a project going well beyond the point of sanity or common sense.
The first relates to my guitar. In an attempt to make up for the rather dilatory start to my life as a guitarist, I have been practising regularly. If I’m at home, I normally manage to put in a few minutes of practise every day. Only a very few minutes each time (around five) as the fingertips on my left hand can only take so much punishment. In an attempt to toughen them up, after Christmas I moved to practising twice a day: morning and afternoon. This is having the desired effect and my fingertips are hardening and the dead skin is starting to peel as the necessary callouses form.
The upshot of this process was that at my guitar lesson last week, I was able to spend a much larger portion of the hour actually playing the instrument and much less time talking about it. This was wonderful and there were very brief sonic glimpses of something Spanish or Latin American emerging from the instrument (though they are still swamped by the dross). I even managed to produce an F successfully for the first time! This may not sound like much, but my index finger has to hold down two strings (on the first fret) at the same time. Previously the squidginess of my finger had rendered this impossible. It’s always nice to make a break through while your teacher is watching. In fact, guitar-playing is becoming much less of a white-knuckle experience all round and I no longer give the impression that I am trying to throttle the life out of my guitar.
This may have led me to get a little carried away, so by the end of the lesson the tops of fingers 1, 2 and 3 were completely shredded. My attempt to practise the following day had to be aborted very quickly and I needed another two days of rest (while I was over the Irish Sea) before I next braved the guitar: even typing on a laptop keyboard was somewhat of a challenge. Still, today my fingers were up to a full session on the strings and producing an F is almost second nature.
My other main physical project is on the bar: an attempt to master the muscle-up. Yesterday, I was attempting the tricky transition from being under the bar to being over it and pushing myself up. This is starting to go really quite well and I can gain a lot more height over the bar with relative ease (still aided by a thickish rubber band), though synchronising the switch of hand position and the movement from pulling to pushing up is more tricky: but I did manage it a few times. Again, my determination rather overwhelmed any sense and after twenty minutes or so attempting the maneouvre I noticed my right hand seemed a little damp. On closer examination I discovered it was bleeding (from an unknown source) and it had a sizeable blood blister where my little finger joins onto the hand. My left hand had another two blood blisters: also where the fingers join onto the palm. The left hand blisters are already mostly healed, but the right hand one is still pretty impressive looking and rather painful. It would seem my life of desk-jockey, clean-fingernailed ease has not prepared my hands for this sort of high-pressured, frictional punishment. Still, no can doubt that I am committed to this project.
I think the problem in both cases is that (a) I don’t like to be defeated (or so it would seem) and (b) it feels so good when the thing actually works. I also suspect my brain is quite good at ignoring pain signals from the rest of my body when I’m concentrating and it’s only when I stop (or am forced to) that it deigns to notice the damage inflicted.
Actually, this isn’t the first time I’ve found myself to be bleeding recently. Not even the second – which was a couple of weeks back when I mounted the bike rather ineptly and scraped my leg on the rear mud-guard. I thought nothing of it at the time and cycled off to my appointment. On arrival, I was asked if I knew my leg was covered in blood: to which my answer was, “No”. A few weeks earlier, I had just given blood (deliberately) and was tucking into my celebratory lemon squash and chocoloate biscuit (or several) when I noticed my arm was wet. My first thought was that there must be a drip from the ceiling, but after a while I moved my attention away from my book and macaroon and noticed that I was coagulating rather slower than normal and that my arm and (white) top were covered in blood (mine). This was quickly rectified by the NBT staff, to be honest I think the flow has staunched itself, but it did make me wonder if, were I suitably distracted, I could bleed-out without noticing. After three such incidents now, I am beginning to suspect that the answer is “Yes”.
So, if you spot the author out-and-about and notice he is bleeding, please let him know as he probably won’t have noticed.