As a young boy sitting on the plain carpet of my living room, I would calculate every movement of my father’s fingers with fierce concentration as he lazily plucked the strings of an old, beaten acoustic guitar. I was entranced as the fingers of his right hand danced a slow waltz over the strings, and equally electrified as the opposite hand performed a ferocious tango with the fretboard as its stage. Above all, I felt an inexplicable fascination for the mysterious, silky waves that filled my ears as the tiny dancers masterfully performed their art across the face of my father’s instrument.
One night, as I lay in the darkness of my bedroom, a faint melody began to gracefully slip its way between the cracks of the door. My palms tightly gripped the edges of the bedsheets as I became overwhelmed with boyish gaiety; for I, as the schemer that I was, had carefully calculated every factor in undertaking my riskiest endeavor to date: Playing my father’s guitar. After a loud yawn signaled my father’s retreat into his corner of the house, I cautiously peeked out from behind my bedroom door and quietly made my way down the dark hallway. As I felt about the darkness, a shot of excitement nearly burst out of my chest as my hand grazed along the rough, uneven neck of the instrument that had captivated my childhood. That night, I fell asleep on the family sofa with the guitar in my arms.
The following morning, I awoke to the booming voice of my father, shouting, “Well, it looks like we have a little Clapton on our hands here!” To my relief, what I had expected to be an unearthly reprimanding actually turned out to be quite the opposite: Excitement and encouragement. After making the discovery, my father quickly arranged lessons at a local music store, and from that point on, the guitar began to seal its place into my foundations as one of the greatest passions of my life. Instead of running home after school and watching TV, I spent hours sitting in my room and playing my guitar to the tunes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie. A single dream was stuck in my mind: To live my life playing the instrument that I had fallen in love with.
Today, as a young adult, my passion for the guitar still holds as true as it did when I was a child. Although I can’t afford the time to play for hours every day as I did when I was young, I still manage to find time in the day between the onslaught of scholarship essays and homework to escape back onto the worn sofa where I first picked up my father’s instrument to feel the same enchantment, mystery, and joy that defined my childhood.