When I was twelve or so, I won a guitar at a library raffle. I’d practically never won anything at a raffle before (or since!), and was very quickly the envy of my friends, since the guitar was the big prize on offer.
But I didn’t play it. I graduated from high school, moved to another state, and never played it. A string broke and I had it restrung, and I never played it. I graduated from college, moved the guitar yet again, and never played it. Ever since that fateful library-raffle day, the guitar has sat in the corner of my room, a forlorn reminder that apart from some half-hearted attempts ending with frustratingly sore fingers, I couldn’t stick with it enough to play this instrument that I genuinely would love to know how to play.
When I officially started living under a stay-at-home order, I found myself with a bit more time, a lot more boredom, and that same guitar looking balefully at me from a corner of my living room. And I remembered that most of the battle of playing guitar was sticking with it long enough to build up calluses on your fingers. If I played the guitar every day for a couple of months, I reasoned, I probably could build up those calluses. I wouldn’t have to play long—I could just play until my fingers hurt, no matter how short that was.
I didn’t do it every day—I probably didn’t even do it every other day. Just when I thought of it, I picked up the guitar and played until I didn’t want to play anymore.
It didn’t feel like too long before I could play as long as I wanted, the pinching of my fingers no longer a problem. Then I was working on a song to play for my friends over video. I’m still slow, and I only know a few chords. (My E minor is golden, but my G is only okay, and my A is decidedly sketchy.) But I can do something I couldn’t do before. When I look back on this time, if nothing else, I’ll be taking away from it finger calluses and three guitar chords. And to me, in a time where everything feels a bit uncertain, that’s not nothing.
This week, we’re starting a new, heartening conversation in our daily email, “A Little Bit of Bloom.” You’re likely familiar with the phrase “Bloom where you’re planted.” And many of us have gone through periods of time when the thriving that is implied in that “blooming” feels out of reach. The truth is, sometimes even just a tiny accomplishment or moment of growth (like my finger calluses!) are the bigger victories on the path to “blooming where you’re planted.” At minimum, a little bit of bloom inevitably leads to thriving when we continue to foster the right conditions for that growth—like celebrating the small victories. We’re excited to hear about these little moments in your life—and our pieces this week might be able to lend a hand, whether you’re hoping for little successes in working from home or getting in a date night with your husband without leaving your home.
Our time right now might sometimes feel wasted, but as writer Annie Dillard points out, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” No matter how small, every little bit of bloom is part of a life well-lived.
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