Music has always been a big part of my life, so it’s strange to consider the fact that I only seriously took up an instrument the year I’m turning 30, which I generally consider late to be starting anything new.
I used to play piano and flute, but that was never really my choice. For the former, it was more of my mom wanting me to be a good Chinese boy, and me not wanting to let her down. When it came to the latter, my school had a strong emphasis on arts, and either visual arts or music were mandatory. I chose music1, and played the flute; far from ideal for a teenager going through puberty and an identity crisis.
I bought my first ukulele a few months ago, and I don’t think I’ve stopped playing since.
So much of my life has been filled by those four little strings. It’s an entirely new medium I’m still exploring, a muscle I’d yet to flex, a way of expressing myself that’s so unlike any of my other outlets.
I get pains in my fingers and wrists from playing too much, so I structure my life around the breaks; doing laundry, writing, cleaning my room, sorting my paperwork until the tingling or pinching goes away. The pads of my fingers are dead. I used to fall asleep thinking of her — now I work out scale patterns and chords across the fretboard in my head until I pass out. I even decided to make the ultimate commitment and grow out the nails on my strumming hand because the longer they get, the more pleased I am with the sound (and I find both long nails and asymmetry absolutely disgusting).
It’s come to the point where I’d rather play ukulele than play games, or go out, or talk to people. I love playing so much that I enjoy it even though I’m still no good at it.
I turn 30 in three months, and music is my hot hot bath, my dead end, and my girlfriend.
The Turning 30 Series
- 29: The Child
- 29 1/12: The Adolescent
- 29 2/12: The Lachrymologist
- 29 3/12: The Once Loved
- 29 4/12: The Mask
- 29 5/12: The Uncarved
- 29 6/12: The Arrival
- 29 7/12: The Taoist
- 29 8/12: The Son
- 29 9/12: The Rocker
- 29 10/12: The Deadline
- Ironic that I’m so much more of a visual artist now. [↩]