Life Wisdom from The Father of Modern Classical Guitar

My beloved wife has been traveling for work a lot lately. She was gone five days, home for two days and now gone for ten days again.

I've been spending a lot of time alone with our dog, and my thoughts. 

Looking for temp work to get me through the summer and applying for music therapy jobs has been taking up my time...and sometimes avoiding those tasks. There are positions with the staffing agency I worked through last academic year, but I feel such a strong draw to get back in the MT game, that I keep applying for those positions.

I was hit by a wave of helplessness and hopelessness today as I was gearing up to organize some digital files. This happens to me sometimes when I feel overwhelmed. So many questions right now...will I find a job close enough to home to commute, or will I have to relocate?

(this question is quite important since I discovered I do NOT like living far enough from my university professor wife and my children where air travel is required to see them)

Do I follow my passions even if the job doesn't pay well?

When do I apply to a PhD program?

Do I stick with being vegetarian even when a steak sounds REALLY good?

These questions and others constantly flood my brain, and thus, the feelings of being overwhelmed.

As I was procrastinating the commencement of digital file organizing, and in the midst of being overwhelmed, a thought bubbled to the surface of my consciousness. In what I believe was an effort by my spiritual guides to give me a kick in the toches, I remembered a phrase I'd heard once when I audited a Christopher Parkening Master Class. He was recounting a conversation after a Master Class he attended with Andres Segovia (Father of Modern Classical Guitar) in which Segovia said something so simple, yet so profound to Parkening: "Work very hard."

Those powerful words apply not only to classical guitar practice, or any practice for that matter, but to life itself.

Flashback to my time in the Four Corners area: I was driving over a mountain on my way to the Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, AZ. I happened upon a small waterfall right beside the road. I stopped, drank from the waterfall, played my flute in an offering of joy, scattered tobacco as an offering a said this prayer: "Great Spirit, I ask that you guide me to a teacher today, so that I may learn the ancient wisdom to pass on to those who would hear it."

I had been open to a shamanic teacher for over a year at that point.

As I walked around the Fair, I asked vendors about items they had for sale: different colored corn, corn meal, corn pollen, cedar, sweetgrass, Navajo herbs. My questions were met with kind and informative answers.

Toward the end of my time there, I was feeling let down. I had not found my shamanic teacher.

Suddenly, I laughed out loud! I realized I had met MANY teachers that day! I had received exactly what I asked for!

I believe these important spiritual messages come to us in many forms if we are paying attention. 

The "Work very hard" message was reiterated to me a few years later by my music therapy professor. I was telling her of my immense performance anxiety. I can sing and accompany myself without hesitation, but for whatever reason, performing solo classical guitar strikes fear into my very core.

Her sage advice for countering my anxiety? "Practice your little nubs off."

Another form of "work very hard" had been given to me.

As is often the case when I feel overwhelmed, I shut down...become, as one person put it, inert.

Today, I was again encouraged to "work very hard." Work very hard to get the job I want, in the place I want. Work very hard to follow my passions. Work very hard to get myself prepared to apply to that PhD program. Work very hard to live my life instead of think about my life.

Henry Ford said, "You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do."

That was someone who knew how to "work very hard."

So my friends, pay attention to those seemingly random thoughts that pop into your head...especially in times of stress. We receive the guidance we need constantly...if we simply pay attention.

Today, instead of being overwhelmed, instead of thinking you're not good enough to do the things you want to do, instead of dwelling on the challenges...

Work. Very. Hard.