Friday, June 5, 2009

Changing life's guitar strings

I haven't changed my guitar strings in years. My electric guitar has been sitting in its case for at least two years, while my acoustic still hasn't forgiven me for my neglect - even though I've picked it up more often these past few weeks.

Old strings, though, they break a little easier. They're cruddy and grimy and - if you haven't played in a while - are a bit out of tune. New strings not only look shiny and new, but they feel like it, too.

But old strings feel better. You remember the time you strung this new set into your guitar. You remember all the songs you've played on them, in front of people or alone, and the ghosts of those songs play in the ether somewhere. Most of the time, your strings will only get changed out of necessity. Either they break or they become unplayable - whatever. Still, you wouldn't change them if you didn't have to.

I think about change a lot these days. I think about how our world is changing in ways we don't even recognize, and we won't recognize how everything has changed until years later. Time equals a critical eye. Only later will we realize the sand is shifting beneath us.

A Time article has me thinking about how work is changing, and my visit out to see Andrew (and our conversations in LA) just solidified the whole thing. Freelancers are becoming the norm. A "stable job" is a rare, shy beast these days. I see it at work now. Pensions are a thing of the past, benefits are being cut or eliminated, and only recently have our 401(k)s begun to recover. Things are weird out there.

It's humbling (which, I argue, is a good thing).

Like some hippo in the Niger River, I've adapted to be wary of these kinds of changes. But lately that's changed. I'm more willing to go with the groove, and less likely to stay in the water where it's cool and safe. It's probably out of necessity. I read about things like burnout and I think, "Man, that could be me."

One thing that hasn't changed is my love of trophies and certificates. I know I'm a vain person, and I deal with it in ways that I hope aren't cloying to others, but man - give me an piece of etched glass and I glow. Very Gen Y, right? But it's always been that way. I collected awards in college like Jay Leno collects cars.

In that respect, this year has been terrific. Three national credit union awards, two state-wide credit union awards, and now my "30 and Under" designation - it's enough to make anyone's grandma annoy total strangers for longer and longer periods of time (take mine, please).

But even all that's not enough to keep me happy. Nope. For once, the prospect of change is the stuff excitement is made of. For the first time in my life, I'm embracing the idea of "different."

I'm working on changing life's guitar strings. The current ones are brittle and ready to break. Yes, they're comfortable, and yes, they still sound okay. But I can't wait around until they snap.

It's time to be proactive. I need a brighter sound.

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