Some of the best advice I received when I retired was to try to learn new things. Take up a new hobby, read different types of books, watch more documentaries instead of horror movies.
I even brush my hair with my left hand every now and then, try eating European style where I don’t switch the fork to my right hand after using it in the left one when I cut myself a bite.
I spent fifteen years using my brain at least eight hours a day on the job, wouldn’t be good to just basically shut it down.
My shrink was right.
Guitar. Hadn’t even touched one in, like, twenty-two years. Twenty-three.
Remember more chords than I expected. Even some of the strange fret patterns I came up with just finger-fumbling around.
Picked up a number of instructional books, so now I know what those strange fingerings were. I know which of them are diatonic, non-diatonic, sustained, extended, augmented, all that good stuff.
After five decades of listening to CSN, The Band, the Dead, Bruce and the guys, Stephen, Neil (only really need to know about three chords there), B.B., Buddy, Slowhand, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters …
… you kind of pick up on stuff. Progressions they use, variations they’ve tried, and you like the sounds of them.
Now I’m learning how to do it.
First song I ever learned was “Wooden Ships”, and I would get a run going of E minor and A minor to play behind Stills’ solo. Now I do one of five chords with three variations on top of that.
Nice to know my mind is still sharp enough to pick up on that stuff.
My fingers, however, remain sixty-three years old, and at times this is exactly what it feels like:
Of course, with practice, patience and perseverance, one day I hope to see genuine improvement: