Mike Gainor

What’s something that you love doing? 

How about this: What’s something that you love doing even though you’re not especially good at it?

Me, I really like playing guitar – even though my main skill is breaking the strings on that sucker. 

My parents had me take piano lessons for awhile when I was a kid. Just playing piano was pretty fun, but reading music made my brain hurt. I think I had my poor piano teacher near tears a couple of times. 

But the guitar! That was different. This was the rock and roll machine. I listened to Jimmy Hendrix play solos, Sterling Morrison strum chords, Angus Young bash out tasty riffs. 

Then I would try to do that. The results were kind of like if you’d wrapped Jimmy Page’s hands in duct tape, suspended him upside down and told him to make some rock’n’roll. Actually, Jimmy would have sounded better. 

I was in a band for a while. My poor bandmates. I was mighty enthusiastic, but had a real knack for playing the wrong thing at the wrong time, especially when we were playing in front of other people. Not cool. 

So the band broke up, as bands do. But I always kept a guitar around. No matter where I lived, I would have that thing sitting on a stand in a corner, and every couple of days I would pick it up and play.  

And I still do. Why? It just makes me happy. 

Now, the list of people who appreciate my guitar playing pretty much has just that one name on it, though. Which is to say, me. My wife was at work the other night, so I was playing for my dog. Well, more like playing at my dog. She stared at me mournfully for a long time, then slowly got up and padded off into the other room.

But here’s the thing: I enjoy it. And if you enjoy something, it doesn’t have to be anything more than that. Life is short, and it’s not always easy. There are a lot of things that you have to do that you might not enjoy. And there are things that you might want to be skilled at, but you lack the talent or the time (or both) to get to that level. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing them in the meantime.

So if it’s hunting or flower arranging, painting or fishing, running or carpentry or stamp collecting – if it gives you joy, I say go for it, keep banging away. Even if your only (and reluctant) audience is the dog. 

Mike Gainor is the editor of the Pine City Pioneer. Contact him at editor@pinecitymn.com or 320-322-5241.


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