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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1852916
Phoenix finds that persistence, again, is paying off...
Phoenix picked through the books one by one.  Hastings had a good selection of guitar music.  As he looked through the music anthologies and the method books, he found a few that were worth taking a second look at.  One was a book of beginner's tunes, riffs, and background chords.  Another was a complete method for learning the guitar.  Phoenix looked carefully through each one.  He chose the one that had the complete version of "St. Louis Blues" in it, which happened to be the method book.  Phoenix loved that song.  He knew how to play part of it on the piano and his father loved the song as well.  If Phoenix could learn "St. Louis Blues" on the guitar, it would be quite the piece to show off to his dad.  Phoenix liked the idea.  He also picked up a Fender polishing cloth for his guitar while he was there.  He would have gone to the music store, but he was due for a haircut in less than 30 minutes, so he chose to go to his appointment there and wait for 15 minutes instead of being late to it because he was in the music store.  Besides that, he had spent enough money.  He had all he needed to learn to play the guitar either in his possession or on the way in the mail.

Phoenix got his haircut and went home to play his guitar.  He received a text just as he pulled into his parking space and it was from his friend and neighbor from graduate school.  She and another friend were hanging out and wanted to know if Phoenix wanted to come over.  He texted back that he would be there in a few minutes.  He went over and spent some time with his friends before his spouse called him to take him to lunch.  He introduced his spouse to his friend and showed off his new haircut.  His spouse said it looked "gay", half joking.  Phoenix and his friend laughed as Phoenix got into the van.  Taco Bell was the meal of the day, then his spouse had to go back to work.  Phoenix ate lunch, called his aunt to tell her that his spouse would call her later, and then decided it was time.

Phoenix clipped his nails, washed his hands, set up the music stand with the book on it, and carefully took his Ibanez out of its black gig bag.  He played through his few favorite chords and his favorite tune a few times before turning in the method book to "St. Louis Blues".  After only a few notes, Phoenix realized that this was far beyond his abilities at this point.  He was disappointed.  Why should he be disappointed?  He had been playing the guitar for a whole five days.  What did he expect?  Rethinking his plans, he decided to work on technique at the level he had been playing at instead of banging his head against a wall with something that was unlikely to be a successful and rewarding venture with "St. Louis Blues".  Persistence.  It would take persistence.  Phoenix definitely had that.  His psychiatrist had described him as a phoenix rising from the ashes during a session one time and the image fit perfectly.  He was a phoenix, and had risen from the ashes many times with many things.  He happily played the chords he had learned and practiced the transitions from one to another for a while.  The practice was paying off.  Phoenix noticed that his fingers were not sore, but were instead comfortably numb.  He felt pressure, not pain, when he fingered the chords with his left hand.  That was a serious improvement over the sore fingers he had endured for the last few days.  He had taken it easy the day before and that had allowed his fingers to get over the soreness.  Phoenix no longer felt stuck in his playing.  He could play by ear, he could read music, and he could play the guitar.  He would get better with practice and someday he would be able to play "St. Louis Blues" for his dad.  He just had to be patient and stick with it.

At around 1600 in the afternoon, Phoenix got a text from his friend.  She had just gotten out of lab and wondered if he wanted to hang out and get something to eat.  She picked him up a few minutes later and they went to a Mexican restaurant to eat dinner.  Phoenix's spouse called to make sure he had had something to eat and to let him know that work was done for the day a few hours later.  Phoenix and his friend went to her house and watched the first episode of David Attenborough's "The Private Life of Plants", which was fascinating, and then went to coffee at Hastings.  Phoenix studied his new guitar book while his friend cross-stitched.  He found several great songs in the book, one of which was "Joshua Fit the Battle".  Phoenix visualized the fingerings on his guitar for over an hour and was confident in his ability to go home and play it on his guitar.  His friend dropped him off at 2210 and he immediately got out his guitar to test whether or not visualizing the fingerings had helped.  He sat down with it and found that, though it was slow, he could play the song through without error the first time!  He played it through several more times to confirm his disbelief and was very pleased with the results of his experiment.  Putting away his guitar, he marveled at his progress.  Others may laugh, he thought, but he had really made a great deal of progress.  After all, he had only been playing the guitar for five days.  Persistence.  That was what it took.  Persistence.
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