The other day I was reminded of how just an instant of dwelling on what has past can totally derail what you’re doing in the moment and in moments to come. It was one of those little microcosm moments where something small yields a big aha. Now it is not that I didn’t actually know this little fact but this little experience was a worthy reminder.
In my past I spent around 11 years studying classical guitar and I have spent even more years playing acoustic guitar on and off. I’ve had periods of years where it was serious study and others where I would play only when the mood moved me. Lately I’ve fallen somewhere in the middle and find myself playing because I want to, but more regularly because it allows me to immerse myself in a mindset and activity totally removed from my business and doesn’t require the cooperation of weather or time like my outdoor pursuits in nature do.
The other day I found myself playing a fairly difficult piece that I once played fluently. And, whether it is just amazing muscle memory from all those years of practice or simply my newfound more relaxed approach to all of this, I don’t know, but I was playing it fairly well. At one point, though I made a big mistake that surprised me and rather than let it roll instantly off of me, my mind tried to go back to that measure of music and figure out where the error occurred while I was still playing the rest of the piece. Well that did it. You just can’t keep moving powerfully forward if you are looking back and I thoroughly derailed myself. It was as if I had 40 fingers each wanting to do their own thing and I was like a rail car out of control and simply had to stop.
Now, the fact that I made a mistake is no big deal. I’ve come to learn (after about 15 years of being resistant) that it is just what happens and happens to everyone from beginner to master. The key is staying in the moment and not getting distracted by what has passed or worrying about what is to come.