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Retrospective wonder…

by | Jan 1, 2021 | Retrospective, Return To Forever, wonder

Happy New Year!!!  As with Christmas, seeing that this day would land on “wonder” I was excited.  Something that we collectively lose track of as we get older is our ability to tune into our own inherent creativity.  I am reminded of that with my granddaughters who are constantly up for something: singing off-key, painting outside the lines, or even without any plan… and loving it.  As I have looked back on my own year, I am happy to say that I am rediscovering that joy also, including building a really ugly guitar… 

… with my series on Van Halen, I really got a better understanding of why Eddie was so revered… and what a mad scientist he was.  And that encouraged me to dive back into building things again, including a copy of his legendary guitar.  To do it I needed a router, slightly more refined than the chisel that Van Halen used… and found a friend that had one.  Sending him a picture of what I doing, his comment was “wow that is REALLY ugly!  Why would anyone do that? Is it famous?”.  Ah… yeah… like changed music, particularly guitar music, forever. 

Al Di Meola, while born into an Italian family, grew up in New Jersey… and like other American kids, decided at 8 to become a guitar player after hearing the Ventures and Elvis.  His early teachers directed him towards jazz standard players like George Benson, and Kenny Burrell, which led him to Berklee College of Music, one of the most creative music schools on the planet.  When “Forever” producer Chick Corea needed a new guitar player, Di Meola joined the band at 19… and was there for only 3 albums… 

… but these were the 3 MOST important Return to Forever albums and catapulted him into an amazing career.  He is known for the speed of his playing, which he shows off in the song today, his composition for the Romantic Warrior album, and one of their greatest hits. There is no way to know if Eddie*Van Halen) knew of Di Meola, but I would bet on it.  Looking to be the best, you wonder what everyone is doing in your field, what have they created/uncovered, and try to adopt some of those ideas into your own.  And staying curious is the key to wonder

… the hard part for most people is that what you are looking for… is what’s missing.  Joined with observe, it is about taking a different stance, and then thinking about things in a unique way.  And why kids are so good at it… my favorite question is inherent in them because of their lack of experience: “What could possibly go wrong?”  

My grandfather modeled that for me when I found out his heart pills had nitroglycerine in them.  I asked of course, “Will they blow up?” … and rather than respond with experience, he let wonder and curiosity rule… and we took one outside with a hammer… sorta like Eddie with a chisel, and a Stratocaster body…actually one that had been rejected as not having enough “quality”… Our pills didn’t blow up, but Eddie’s guitar certainly did…

I always ask leaders if they play a musical instrument… it is a good question to take the conversation into a different realm.  Music is stored in the most creative (and emotional) part of the Brain… and most answer with, “I used to … and then….”.  And I am smart enough to not fill that silence… simply let wonder take its course… or not.  This year has been tough for everyone, and if you have made it through to the New Year (obvious if you are still reading…) then what do you wonder about for your path now? As you are thinking back in the year just wrapped, wonder about what is missing that you need to create. If you could change the rules you are working with, what would that create not just or you but for those around you? 

In my own Retrospective, I have noted the places I chose to take the easy path: to stay in the lines. And I am planning how to do less of that… in return for more joy and wonder. Yes, that guitar is ugly… but I built it.  And that was fun enough for me.  To steal a line from another great song, as we start this next leg of our journey, I hope you dance… a Majestic Dance.

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