Amy Mantis
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A Rambled Way Of Saying Do Your Thing

Somehow it's past midnight.

I'm trying to find a Tom Petty song with the lyrics "Don't let 'em bring you down/Don't let 'em get to you" or something along those lines.  I know I could look it up, but that takes away the fun of it.  I thought they were in "Even The Losers," but if they are, I haven't gotten to them yet.

This is the first day I haven't played guitar in a long time.  I'm gonna play after this, but I didn't play on 11.12.13 (I just wanted to type that).

Definitely not in "Even The Losers."

There was a time when I felt like it was morally wrong for me to not play guitar every day.  That stretch was from June 2008 until probably December 2009.  I felt that way before then, but there were times when I couldn't take my guitar with me if my family was taking a trip or something.  The guitar stayed behind.

Then there was a time when I would go for days without playing guitar.  That didn't last long, and I didn't play because I was in a confused state.  That was only this past February and March, and maybe a little bit in May and June of 2012.

THE LYRICS ARE IN "THE WAITING."  Wow, I'm ashamed because my favorite Petty album is Hard Promises.  Wow, Amy, bad fan.  And the lyrics are "Don't let it kill you babe/Don't let it get to you."  Ugh, Tom.  Every song Tom Petty has ever written applies to my life in some capacity.

Anyway.

The times when I didn't play guitar religiously were when the band was without a singer.  Or, to put it less gently, when my singers quit, my world was turned upside down for a shortwhile.  I realized that playing guitar did more good than harm at some point.  Initially I was too..everything to be able to sit down with Big Red or another of my babies,  You should see the songs I write when someone quits.

I don't think not playing guitar really helped me though.  When my first singer quit, I was fortunate to have rehearsals for Berklee's Commencement Concert that last four to six hours every night for a week straight where I had to play guitar.  I had to practice, I had to rehearse, and I had to perform.  After that I took a break from playing.  Then when my second singer quit, I don't think I touched my guitars for over a week (which is a record, surprisingly).

At a certain point, not playing guitar becomes more of a chore than anything.  I'm a guitar player, I'm a musician.  It's what I do.  I identify myself with my guitars.  So to not play is, in some ways, to not play is to not be myself.  And to let anyone have that kind of power over me is not cool.

Whatever it is that you do that you love to do, if someone throws off your game, don't let her.  Whoever it is, do not give him that power.  Even if it's a struggle at first, do it.

(And this writing is why I'm going to bed.  Toby Zeigler would not approve of my borderline abuse of the English language.)

When I Don't Play Guitar

January 13, 2013

I didn’t play guitar at all today.  I was staying with some friends and while I did have my guitar with me, I didn’t play it today.

Sometimes I feel fine when I don’t play.  Today is not one of those days.

I often feel like playing guitar is so much of my identity that when I don’t play, I’m further away from the core of myself than I like.  Does that make sense?  I’m grounded when I play because I know where I stand.  I can fly, paradoxically.

I know I extend beyond the fact that I play guitar, that my guitar playing is an extension of who I am rather than the other way around.

I definitely wouldn’t be the same person though if I hadn’t started playing guitar all those (nine) years ago.  Imagining who I’d have been is not something I want to do nor do I feel is it worth doing.  This is who I am, and I’m going to change along the way (we all do, whether we care to admit it or accept it), but music, and playing guitar in particular, will be my constant.

My mentor walked away from his instrument of choice (the organ - Hammond B3 is still his weapon of choice) for six weeks once or twice.  I don’t know if I have it in me to do that.  He was also probably a bit older when he did it than I am now (I’m 22 for those who don’t know).  He’s also a lot smarter than I am.  So maybe he’s onto something.  I can picture this exchange happening somewhere down the line:

"Amy, you need to take a break.  Walk away from the guitar - just for a bit, just to see how it feels."
"But I can’t!  I don’t know how to stop."
"Yes, you do.  I wouldn’t tell you to do it if I knew you couldn’t."
"You really think I should?"
"Yes.  It will do you good"
"You’re sure?"
"Yes."
"Okay.  We’ll see."
"Amy…Just try it." 

It’s not that unlikely.  That’s not going to happen anytime in the near future - I’m talking years down the road.

However, in the meantime, I will continue playing guitar far more often than I don’t play guitar.