“Old Dogs, New Tricks”

When I woke up on Christmas morning and saw the box in the corner of our living room, I shot Stephanie a disapproving look. The present was the size and shape of a flat screen television and although we had discussed buying one on many occasions, we ultimately decided against it until the time was right. So as the presents were opened by the kids, I tried to ignore the gift in the corner that seemed to grow ominously larger by the minute.

Finally, Stephanie said, “I would like you to open my gift,” as she pointed toward the box I had been ignoring.

“Steph…”

“It’s not what you think it is! Open it.”

I walked across our living room as I made one last plea to open it later after the kids had gone to bed. I didn’t want them to get too excited just in case we had to return it a few days later. Stephanie rolled her eyes at me as she excitedly said, “Just open it!”

I opened the card that was attached and read:

I truly hope this gift helps you to rediscover your childhood aspirations and tap into your hidden potential! Have fun with it and enjoy yourself!

PS – After too many years of you spoiling me at Christmas, I finally get to give you the gift you have deserved for over 30 years! Enjoy!

As I looked up from the card, I was bewildered. I haven’t wanted a flat screen for over thirty years and how would one have fun with a flat screen television anyway? She must have seen the puzzlement in my facial expression as I looked at her quizzically while I tried to decipher the meaning of her card. I was stumped.

“Open it,” she said more excited than ever.

Inside the box was a brand new electric guitar with a prepaid gift certificate for lessons. My eyes flew wide open as I took the guitar out of the package and cradled it in my hands for the first time. I was like a kid in a candy shop as I reminisced about past Christmases when all I ever wanted was a brand new electric guitar but no matter how hard I pleaded, one never arrived.

My mother was opposed to me learning how to play an instrument. She was adamantly opposed to me being involved in chorus, theater or any other nonacademic related activity, except for sports. “It is a waste of time. I want you to learn the basic skills so you can get a job and have a good life,” she once said to me when I was younger.

Unfortunately, for me, she felt that music was a waste of my time and didn’t want me involved in frivolous activities. She felt that learning music offered no tangible benefit to my education or long term success. And although all of the research proved the exact opposite of her belief, I was never able to convince her to look at the empirical evidence.

So I went behind her back. I auditioned and performed in middle school and high school productions. In high school, I sat in and sang with a couple of garage bands from time to time. And after I graduated from college, I formed a band with a friend of mine. But in all the years in between, I never took the time to learn how to play the guitar.

That was until this year when my wife bought me an electric guitar for Christmas. I started lessons in January and I have to admit that it was harder than I thought it would be during the first few weeks. But over the past few months, I have made progress. I have learned how to play a few easy songs and I just completed work on my first rhythm guitar project. And I love every minute of it.

I have often been told that “you can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.” I completely disagree. I have always claimed to be a student in the continuing education department at the University of Life and this past Christmas, my wife asked me to put my money where my mouth is. It was my dream as a child. It was the one thing I wished to find under the tree every December 25th and as my heart pounded in my chest as I raced down the stairs each and every year, it was the one thing that was never there. This year, it was the last thing I expected to find under our Christmas tree and I am glad it was there.

I am blessed to have a wife who believes in making dreams a reality because I have rediscovered my childhood aspirations. And I have tapped into my hidden potential to explore new realms of possibilities. I have a long way to go before I will be considered “good” by any measurable standard but I am excited to see where this musical mystery tour takes me in the coming years.

Dreams require action. My wife taught me that in one simple act of kindness that reinforced the fact that life is too short to wish for dreams to come true. If I want something bad enough, I have to make it become a reality. That’s how dreams come true; for “new dogs and old dogs” alike!

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2 Responses to “Old Dogs, New Tricks”

  1. Stephanie says:

    I am so proud of you and your commitment to your lessons… you really are learning faster than I could have ever hoped. Marriage should always be about supporting each other to discover our inner potential and reaching our dreams together! Love you!

  2. Liz says:

    Your wife sounds awesome! I’m so glad that you have each other and seem to be such a loving family! You are blessed! 🙂

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