My primary guitar, the nicest one I’ve ever bought for myself to date, is a Taylor 114ce. Before long, I’m sure to upgrade, but for now it is my darling. I love the sound. I have played it and performed with it quite a lot since I bought it in 2012. It already has some wear along the sound hole where my furious strumming has left its mark.
I am not upset about this “damage.” When I first noticed the worn areas, I was proud. I realized that to leave your mark upon a musical instrument from playing it again and again is a wonderful sign of life.
There are seemingly unlimited ways we understand music and attempt to define it, particularly as it intimately affects us in our lives. It has a mathematical blueprint, but it is so much more than that. It has a power of transcendence that countless preachers surely envy.
Leonard Bernstein wrote that “no art lover can be agnostic when the chips are down. If you love music, you are a believer, however dialectically you try to wriggle out of it.” Musicians know this. Echoing Bernstein’s avowal, Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili, quoted in the The New York Times, said, “People are religious or not, but Bach makes you believe in something for sure.”
Creativity generally possesses this positive power. American poet Kenneth Rexroth wrote, “Against the ruin of the world, there is only one defense: The creative act.”
So when I see what I’ve done to my beloved instrument, I feel that I have, in my own creative acts, defended myself passionately against the ruin of the world. Hopefully, I am also able do so for anyone who enjoys my music.