After 21 consecutive days of doing something new, it becomes a habit.
40 days of harmonica started for me 3 days ago. It has been surprisingly liberating. My skills are elementary and my technique is not technical. But I am doing it. I am trying. I am letting go of my ego and how awful it sounds when I play, knowing that repetition and confidence will one day allow me to play whole songs and even create my own melodies. And I am having a blast. I laugh at myself often, when I am trying to learn harmonica and just generally in life. And this is only day 3…imagine what 37 more days can produce.
I was raised Catholic and every year we gave something up for lent in order to sacrifice. Although I do not practice this religion anymore, I still like to challenge myself this time of year. But this year I wanted to do something different. I wanted to enrich my life by doing something for 40 days and not depriving myself of something I like. My willpower with myself is not always the strongest and I usually end up caving-in and doing that which I am banned from doing.
So why not do something for 40 days that makes me happy and that I look forward to and that will make my life better?
I’ve wanted to learn the harmonica for a long time. There was this magical night (one of many) in Belize and the harmonica just clicked for me. Dallas was jammin’ on the guitar or beat boxing, I can’t remember, and I was on the harmonica with my eyes closed and my musical soul open and free. We were sitting on the steps of the incredible mansion we were staying in and it just clicked. We were completely in sync and in harmony. I felt alive and limitless! When the song we were free-styling came to an organic end, we both stopped playing and looked at each other and laughed and said, “holy shit!” It was pure magic and made me want more and more. I keep trying to get back to that sense of freedom and openness but I can’t seem to find it, yet.
I love playing music and I have not been as musical in my life as I know I am capable of. I played the flute in middle school and truly loved it and I was pretty good at it. But in fear of becoming a weird band nerd in high school, I dropped it after 8th grade. What an idiot. Thankfully, I have not cared what people think of me for some time now and I actually think it is awesome how weird I have become. Like, I’m really weird. But I make myself laugh and I think my jokes are just the best and I laugh at myself before anyone else can. I laugh all the time. It is medicine and can instantly change your mood if you allow it.
So I am on the path to my goal and I am loving the challenge of making time and finding a remote location to play the harmonica daily. It has sent me on solo adventures for the sole purpose of getting out of the house and into to nature to practice with no restriction. I have walked into the hills, found a waterfall, discovered new corners of Granada, meditated in solitude in nature, turned my face to the sun with the wind in my hair, and just let go.
I’ve even come across other people learning to play instruments in nature. Seems to be the natural practice pad for beginners. We’ve met, created a temporary band and had some hilarious jam sessions and then gone our separate ways. A funny thing happens when beginners get together to try to jam. Generally everyone just kind of plays what they can and melodies and beats are not in sync, and I am sure to outside ears it is literally painful. But we are all trying and in such deep focus that it doesn’t matter.
But then there is a magical moment. That moment when things click and something comes together and there is a fleeting moment of a song. And then it disintegrates and we are back to an off-beat and confused jam session. In nature. Under the sun. Laughing and being embarrassed and wondering if we will ever be able to play a song. But isn’t that the most beautiful thing? Fearlessly playing a new instrument with strangers who speak a different language. But we also speak a universal language; music.
So this is just the beginning for me. The start of something new and fun and creative and fueled by a challenge of time. I would like to think that I would play the harmonica everyday with the sole purpose to learn, but I’d by lying to myself. I need a challenge. They say if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. I get bored easily and if there is nothing to work towards, I tend to get off track. So with the time goal, I am playing a game with myself. A game I find so much joy in and that opens me up even more as a creative being.
I am becoming more myself with each passing day here in Spain. Doing things I’ve always wanted to do but for some reason just couldn’t or wouldn’t allow myself to do, for whatever reason.
Something incredible happens when you’re alone in a new city. I am so excited to see what comes from this challenge. In my eyes, it can only be positive.