Words won’t cut it

I once saw an interview with Johnny Marr where he said that one of the nice things about guitars is that you can express what your feeling without having to resort to words. I agreed completely; it’s one of the reasons I like guitars (and musical instruments in general) so much. Because sometimes words just won’t cut it.

I went to kind of a hippie preschool. It was the kind of place where emotions weren’t something to simply clamp down on — they were taken very seriously. We were encouraged to talk out our feelings instead of thoughtlessly acting out on them. So if you were upset, a teach would take you aside and tell you, “Talk about how you feel. Use your words.”

That happened to me, once. Some other kid tore up a picture I was drawing, and I got mad, then got taken aside. When the teacher asked me to describe what I was feeling, what she meant for me to do was to take a breath, think about it, and then say something like, “I am very angry that Ryan tore up my picture.”

Instead, I said something like, “GRRAAAAAAHAHAHHH!”

And she replied, “Okay, you can’t do that. It makes other people feel bad when you scream, do you understand?”

Yeah, I understood. I knew I should have simply and calmly stated, “I am angry,” and let that be that. But I couldn’t! I had so much feeling inside me that a simple statement couldn’t express what I felt! I felt like I was going to burst, and “I am angry” just wasn’t going to relieve the pressure!

Well, I was a little kid at the time. I didn’t know any better. I did figure out as I got older that it doesn’t matter what you feel, you don’t rock the boat. You don’t do weird shit that makes others uncomfortable. Everyone’s constantly boiling with feelings all the time, but if we all let it out in ways that feel appropriate to their size, society would collapse. We’ve got to let it out in safe, non-disturbing ways. So some of us learn to play guitar.

Although today in particular, I really wish they’d just let me scream it out for a minute or two. Just a little bit.

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Words won’t cut it

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