I am learning to play the guitar and there is something intensely satisfying about the callouses I am developing on my finger tips. It feels as though I am earning something.

Something hard.
Something ugly.
Something rough on a more delicate person that gives me the ability to make something beautiful out of 5 strings and some wood… the opportunity to create, to express takes some sort of weathering.

My feet are filled with tiny cuts from the play in Prague, I earned the applause. When something is easy, when there is no callous or cut, is it really worth it?

In the moment I bitch and complain. I say things like “What the fuck? Sweep the damn floors?” But, after the show closes and I am cleaning the cut on the top of my toe, there is a sense of accomplishment that is not replaceable.

And so I recognize aliveness.

I see that I am in a body and yet it is not real until i feel it.
and so it is with emotions.
I know I am a human being, but until I experience my own emotional bandwidth, I don’t really know if I am anything more than a robot.

Thank you, calloused hands, bleeding heart, and open mind.

Fill my days with rich alive-ness and I will give me a standing ovation.
xo
a

Add yours Comments – 77

  • Erin

    on June 8, 2009 at 6:45 am

    I really admire your optimistic look on things, Allison. πŸ™‚
    And I have to agree: when work is hard, the outcome is always ten times more satisying! Good luck with guitar lessons.

  • Jesse

    on June 8, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Hi Allison

    That’s great playing an instrument, the acoustic guitar or piano would work well with your vocals. I don’t know, I really can’t sing, not in tune rather, putting a horn in front of my mouth makes a lot more sense haaa. Umm

    -jesse

  • ID32

    on June 8, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Scars remind us of the life lessons we have enriched ourselves with during our journey towards perfection

  • Jenny

    on June 8, 2009 at 7:22 am

    That is awesome Allison. I have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. Have fun and remember in the end,those callouses will be all worth it when you play beautiful music.

  • Irene

    on June 8, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Each difficult moment has the potential to open my eyes and open my heart. -Myla Kabat-Zinn

  • hpxtreme

    on June 8, 2009 at 9:19 am

  • Smallvillekent

    on June 8, 2009 at 9:49 am

    That is excellent Allison. I have been playing the guitar for years. It is one of the joys of life. It is a great instrument. It will definately accent your beautiful voice. A guitar has 6 strings and puts out a beautiful tone. After a while you will get some good calouses on your finger tips. All the Best!

  • Medina

    on June 8, 2009 at 9:55 am

    C, D, G, F#M,
    Bb, DM, Bm,
    E, F, B7, D7

  • Joy

    on June 8, 2009 at 11:47 am

    You said it perfectly. It sounds weird, but thats what I think of when I need to go work out. I think about how great the aching muscles and pain feels, because its proof that you accomplished something.

    But then I was also thinking that its not just physical proof you need to feel alive. Its thoses moments in life, whether embarrassment or exhilaration, that bring you to reality.
    For me, I recently graduated from highschool, and that night was the most exciting, scariest night of my life. I’m glad I wasn’t like my friends, clawing to get out, because the fear I felt made it more real and memorable for me.
    What’s the point of performing if you don’t have butterflies in your stomach right before? The feelings you don’t expect is what makes you feel more alive.

    Thanks for the post, I really liked this one πŸ™‚
    JOY

  • shinefloyd / luigi

    on June 8, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Allison… learning to play the guitar!!
    it’s great.
    I am learning too… I have 5 guitars…
    2 Fender stratocaster… 1 Yamaha acoustic… 1 Stagg 12 strings… and 1 Nylon string Classic “shinefloyd”.
    but I don’t have a guitar with 5 strings!!! LOL
    oohh… maybe.. your guitar is like “Pat Metheny’s Picasso” guitar… LOL
    sorry… its only a little joke.

    My fingers… are like your fingers now… callouses fingers… (in my left hand).

    I’d like to see you playing and singing “Black bird” (Beatles)… “Come away with me” (Norah Jones)…
    “Stand by me” (Lennon’s version)
    or something more powerful… like “I love rock and roll”

    but I think the best song for you sing is “Moonlight shadow” (Mike Oldfield)

    intro…
    E B C#m A B
    ………………………………………….
    C#m A
    The last that ever she saw him

    B E B
    Carried away by a moonlight shadow

    C#m A
    He passed on worried and warning

    B E B
    Carried away by a moonlight shadow.

    E B
    Lost in a river last Saturday night

    C#m A B
    Far away on the other side.

    E B
    He was caught in the middle of a desperate fight

    C#m A B
    And she couldn’t find how to push through

    C#m A
    The trees that whisper in the evening

    B E B
    Carried away by a moonlight shadow

    C#m A
    Sing a song of sorrow and grieving

    B E B
    Carried away by a moonlight shadow

    E B
    All she saw was a silhouette of a gun

    C#m A B
    Far away on the other side.

    E B
    He was shot six times by a man on the run

    C#m A B
    And she couldn’t find how to push through

    B
    I stay I pray

    E A B
    I see you in heaven far away

    B
    I stay I pray

    E A B
    I see you in heaven far away

    C#m A
    Four am in the morning

    B E B
    Carried away by a moonlight shadow

    C#m A
    I watched your vision forming

    B E B
    Carried away by a moonlight shadow

    E B
    Star was light in a silvery night

    C#m A B
    Far away on the other side

    E B
    Will you come to talk to me this night

    C#m A B
    But she couldn’t find how to push through

    B
    I stay I pray

    E A B
    I see you in heaven far away

    B
    I stay I pray

    E A B
    I see you in heaven far away

    Solo
    (Use same chords for one verse TWICE for solo)

    Far away on the other side.

    E B C#m A B
    Caught in the middle of a hundred and five

    E B
    The night was heavy but the air was alive

    C#m A B
    She couldn’t find how to push through

    C#m A B E B
    Carried away by a moonlight shadow

    C#m A B E B
    Carried away by a moonlight shadow

    E B C#m A B
    Far away on the other side.
    ……………………………………………….

    Good luck!
    have you good news about your kitty Bosley?

    I hope all is ok.
    take care.

  • Tiff

    on June 8, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    One of my good friends taught me how to play guitar in high school and believe me the harder you work at it the worse the callouses get. At the same time the reward is that much sweeter because you’ll actually start to get really good πŸ™‚ haha. Plus I find when I get frustrated while trying to accomplish something, it basically never gets done. Or it doesn’t get done the way I want it to.

    It’s the same deal with working out for me. It hurts and burns while you’re doing it, but the afterburn you feel when you wake up in the morning is amazing. You think to yourself, “this hurts because it’s working.” It’s bittersweet. I love it!! Great blog.

  • Matt

    on June 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Guitar is hard when you first start out. It’s tough but it’s very rewarding if you keep at it. I wish we could get together and jam sometime. That would be epic.
    Have a great day! =)

    Matt =)

  • SethDraven

    on June 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Hi Allison,

    Sorry to barge in on your blog, but I was just wondering if you’ve recieved a message on MySpace from me regarding Smallville? I would hugely appreciate it if you could check that out and respond with whatever information you may be able to share, it would mean the world to me.

    Thanks a lot, you’re also now the first person I’ve started following on Twitter!

  • nkc

    on June 8, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    That was beautiful!

    I do agree that we definately appreciate the things that we accomplish after hard work and dedication.But why dont we appreciate the things that come easier just as much,well some things.

    Hope all is well Allison πŸ™‚

    P.s i hope we get more singing with that guitar playing!

  • Eduardo

    on June 8, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    yeah i think so every thing that make you sufer in one way gives you a nice thing at the end its like school everybudy hates it but at the end you go to the college were you study what realy makes you happy

    Eddie Wulf

  • arash

    on June 8, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    I can only play three songs, and they are all made-up. Sometimes I hold my Guitar and just play, nothing familiar to anybody’s ears. I just play. It is like a machine that can show your thoughts and feelings. I don’t plan it , I just play.

  • Sara

    on June 8, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    THat’s exactly how I felt when I started learning guitar. My fingers hurt, but I had to learn. I had this burning desire to play a year before I decided to go with my gut and try to learn how to play myself. I’ve been playing for about 6 years now, and it’s the most freeing thing. I love how i can carry it everywhere, to sing and play wherever I want…

  • Michael G. Clark

    on June 9, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I do like the guitar, but the saxaphone’s my instument of choice. Callouses on your lips really hurt!

    Lots of luck with the training, it’s all growth and that’s good.

  • La Chat Noir

    on June 9, 2009 at 7:39 am

    I love this blog post and it is so very true. Well done for perservering it is always worth it in the end.

  • Sharon

    on June 9, 2009 at 8:45 am

    It’s the beauteous fruits of your laboring which makes hard work worth it! Kudos to cuts and callouses.

  • Maria

    on June 9, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I totally understand what you mean! I like feeling that when I do something at the end it was worth it! Like I actually did a good job and earned the reward. Example if I stay in my house all day and I don’t do any housework or anything I feel… I don’t know. Like I didn’t accomplish anything! I hate feeling like I’m being a sloth ( is that how you say it?) I like to do my job RIGHT.

    Xo

    Maria

  • Ian

    on June 9, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Hi there,

    Guitar hey? “Finger tips of steel”….now those would be useful..and soon to be with you, I think! Just stay away from washing the dishes once you get them! (We’ll, I’ve always managed to get away with that one!!!)…But where do you get time to put in the practice??..Just keep up the good work, and the pain WILL go away, to be replaced by infinite pleasure…xoxo

  • Brittany

    on June 9, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    *Stands up and claps*
    You rock Allison!
    My brother is probably thinking what are you doing?
    Lol.
    Take care!
    BrittanyXOXOXO

  • Mat

    on June 9, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Keep it up, don’t give up!
    If you really want to learn, you have to keep going. No matter how tough it gets, you will only get better with practice. And of course, motivation is the key if you are learning on your own. What you have to do in the beginning (and for a long time…) is to condition your fingers more than actually play some beautiful melody, which is hard to assimilate for some people who give up because don’t fell like they’re getting good enough fast enough. But not you, I hope πŸ™‚

    It’s cool how you share that your pain makes you human, although I prefer other feelings to remind me that I’m alive which is why I have an electric guitar (less strain on the left had fingers for a righty). I do have an acoustic guitar, my grandma gave it to me and I hope to play “Angeles” on it some day (Elliott Smith). I do know “Dust in the wind” and “Blackbird”, cool finger picking songs. I can’t sing AND play simultaneously though, that’s just asking too much πŸ˜‰

  • Marfeic2011

    on June 10, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Allison, I know just want you mean – I love suffering for my writing – it makes it feel more worthwhile…

    Also – I absolutely loved the show in Prague! And the video blog was so awesome! I am so glad that you were able to do that with your friends – it was awesome! Thanks for the photo montage – it’s on my fridge πŸ™‚

    I wanted to express how grateful I am for all you have done and all your hard work on Smallville. The character of Chloe you have created has been so inspiring to me! I even started writing again after a 12 year hiatus – and I have never been happier! After I finish my smallville fic I plan on finishing a sci-fi novel that I’m co-authoring with a friend – thank you so much for your tireless efforts to spread artistic expression and for being such an inspiration to me and all my young writer girlfriends – we look forward every week to our cram sessions & I hope we do your character justice.

    Keep up the hard work and good luck in all your endeavors. Have a great summer… πŸ™‚

  • krom8

    on June 11, 2009 at 5:04 am

    I hope one day you’ll find your sixth string. I know the perfect sixth string it’s out in the world feeling alone and longing for it’s five best friends and your caloused finger tips.

  • Reed Kovelan

    on June 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I very much enjoy your writing style and look forward to reading more of your thoughts, feelings, and personal views.