Today I took my guitar to the music store to get its truss rod adjusted. I was directed to a young man named Joel who, as it turns out, was celebrating a birthday today.
“Happy birthday, Joel!” I said cheerfully. I casually unzipped my soft case and started to uncover my 9-year-old Fender Malibu. Suddenly, Joel’s mouth gaped open.
“No way,” he said as he carefully pulled out the rest of the guitar. “These…are…SO COOL.” He went on about how he had wanted one as soon as they came out, and how he just loves the adonized gold patina pick guard (I had no idea it was adonized…I always thought it was just a piece of plastic), and how cool it was that I even got the one with the built-in pick up and tuner, and how he kept putting one aside for himself to buy but they kept getting sold until they were all out. “Now they don’t even make them anymore,” he said, holding my guitar in his hands as though it were some rare anthropological find.
You want to know the truth? I bought this guitar on a whim. At the time, I had been playing a full-sized solid cedar Seagull dreadnought, which had amazing tone and was Canadian made (which makes it cool), but was almost the same size and weight as me. I aimlessly wandered into the music store one afternoon, probably in search of something mundane like strings or a capo, and spotted the Malibu on display. It never even occurred to me until then that guitars came in 3/4 size. I walked out with the Fender Malibu in hand and quickly sold my Seagull to someone else.
I’ve written countless songs with this guitar. I played my first and last commercial gig in Vancouver with this guitar. I played during the Olympics with this guitar, and eventually moved across the US border with this guitar. It’s precious to me, for sure. It’s seen me through a lot in my life. But I have to admit, after so many years, I simply don’t regard it with the same awe that I did when I first bought it. I certainly don’t handle it as carefully as I used to. And it hasn’t occurred to me until today that should it for any reason break beyond repair, there would not be another one of its kind to replace it.
Joel finished with the adjustment in less time than it takes to sing a whole song. He started to test his handiwork, playing scales and riffs that I would never dream of being able to pull off on my best day. “It sounds better when you play it,” I said, laughing. He grinned, returning the guitar to me. He said, “Well, if you ever decide to sell it, there’s a nerd here who will pay you much more than it’s worth.”
Sometimes we forget the value of things in our lives – possessions, people, relationships, opportunities. We even forget our own value every now and then, and quite naturally so; after all, we are with ourselves as familiar as familiar gets. It’s a blessing when a complete stranger or outsider comes along to remind us of the treasures we hold so carelessly in our hands. It’s a lesson to see someone else handle these treasures with care, to make them shine and sing like new. Today, I was reminded of how I need to be looking at the blessings in my life. Every new day, every opportunity, every gift of friendship, love, and good health, these are all irreplaceable and precious. I should always count myself lucky to have been given such a life as the one I am living, as there are people who would give anything to be as blessed as me. And no matter how tired or old or ordinary or familiar everthing starts to seem, there is always value to be found in the things that surround me, so long as I keep my eyes and heart open.