28: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

28: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.

~Henri Matisse

While I was living in the south of France, I drove all the way to Barcelona to purchase a very special guitar. Once I was back in the States with my treasured, finely finished wooden instrument, my father asked if he could play it. He loved flamenco guitar music and decided to show off his skills. Before I knew it, between strums, he was tapping on the smooth cedar top of my classical guitar with his fingernails! This technique, called “golpe,” is commonly used while playing the colorful rhythmic flamenco music of Spain.

Guitars meant for playing such music had tap plates on their soundboards to protect the finish from fingernail damage. My father did not realize that my classical guitar did not have a tap plate. I was horrified, but I politely said, “Here, let me show you what I can play” as I took back my guitar.

I hate to admit this, but for years, whenever I played my guitar, I couldn’t help noticing the marks in its fine cedar finish. I felt bad about feeling annoyed because my father was so nice to me and I really loved everything about him.

After having my third child, I didn’t have as much time to practice, so the guitar stayed safely in its case for years. During that time, my father passed away tragically. Although I was very much at peace with our relationship, which helped me during the grieving process, I was of course extremely sad for a long time. Then one day, I was in the mood to start playing my guitar again and I opened the case for the first time in a long while. I gathered up my favorite pieces of music, set up my music stand, and got out my tuning fork. As I started to tighten the strings, I noticed the fingernail marks on my guitar.

It was a moment that took my breath away. Those marks — my father had made them — yes, my father had made them. He was there — a part of him was there on the polished cedar top of my guitar. How wonderful! I was so happy to see those little scratches made by the tapping of his fingers and all of a sudden my guitar was even more special than ever before. My father was a very wise man and I learned so much from him when he was alive — and now he was still teaching me. My perspective on what was important changed. What had once seemed like defects on my guitar were beautiful little souvenirs of time spent with my father.

I vowed from that day on to always appreciate life’s little moments with the people I loved. And whenever I find myself about to “sweat the small stuff,” I think of my father. And I think about my beautiful guitar with its lovely tap marks.

~Pamela Rose Hawken

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