Five hours of guitar practice, seven days a week, but you are nobody without the same amount of time devoted to a steady and equally repetitive round of virtual ass-kissing - also known as social networking. It was the latter that felt most like effort. The guitarist skipped it a little too often, which explained perhaps why he never really had too many covers of Guitar World or Guitar Player magazine to his name.
This day started out feeling like just more of the same...
The guitarist was in his familiar lesson room at the back behind that rickety set of stairs - a cramped, but happy place where students and friends often just dropped by without needing to. This time, though, the friend on the stool opposite him had been eighteen months dead, so he amended his reality. This is a dream, but it's good to see him again.
Yes and no said the friend. It is a dream, but the waking is a little different.
The guitarist stared. "You read my thoughts."
The friend laughed. Can't you read mine yet?
The guitarist discovered that he could. Definitely a dream. Even playing music was different. He found that merely looking at an instrument brought forth sounds. No effort. No finger work. Just think it and it happens.
The friend stood up and the walls faded. I've died and gone to heaven, haven't I?
More laughter. This time it crept into him and he felt the laughter from the inside out. You've died. Heaven is all in the mind.
So I can make heaven or hell? They've had this conversation before, over many beers. It felt strange to be revisiting the thoughts, but as a practical hands-on experience.
Whatever you will
My old school ground?
Kids walked over them and through them. No one noticed. The guitarist craned his head after each and every kid that came too close, something the friend found hilarious.
"Shouldn't I be wearing robes or wings or something?" the guitarist asked.
You are said the friend. He was practically bent double with laughter. At least, that's how the guitarist saw him.
"Shouldn't we be doing something?" the guitarist asked. "You know, helping people?"
Sure said the friend. Millions of people out there that need help. All you've got to do is pick one.
The school ground faded a little. The guitarist hesitated. He felt like he was being pulled out of shape by a barrage of needs and wishes. "Oh my," he said. "Oh my."
The friend shrugged. It hits everyone at first. You get over it.
"And then?" the guitarist asked.
There's a trick to it. Make a choice. Boy or girl.
"Girl, I suppose," said the guitarist.
Then you follow the pain.
The guitarist found that his eyes adjusted to see things that didn't used to be visible. What color is pain? How can you tell anyone who hasn't seen it?
"It's all over," the guitarist said. "What do I do? Wait - I know. I can tell, now. Some of it's thicker, brighter, more intense."
There you go said the friend. The guitarist caught another stray thought that the friend might not have meant to share. Wonder what mine looked like? Or maybe he did.
The slashes of pain intensified. It became a girl weeping on the grass, a half-eaten cupcake discarded beside her. "Look," said the guitarist. They watched pain ungrowing into its roots. "Fat," said the guitarist. "That's what they called her. Such a small word."
Small words pack the most poison said the friend.
The guitarist said, "Maybe we should just.... no wait! I know what to do!"
He strode across the grass, still in robes and wings. The girl looked up startled and started to back away.
"Don't be afraid," said the guitarist.
The girl began to hyperventilate. "You're not real, are you? I mean, you don't look real, I mean - touch me -wait, don't touch me, just maybe leave me alone, okay? All the others do."
"Relax," said the guitarist. "I just wanna let you in on a little secret. Are you gonna listen to me carefully?"
The girl nodded. "Uh-huh."
"And you promise, pinky swear, not to tell anyone else?"
"Uh-huh. I promise."
"Okay, here's the secret. When God makes people and puts the spirit part in them, well, some of them, the spirit part is so beautiful that they might just float all the way back up to heaven. You got me so far?"
"Now here's the important part," said the guitarist. "Because of, well, this problem with the beautiful spirit, see, what God does is he makes those ones a little heavier than normal. You got me on that?"
"Cause if he didn't make them heavier, they would just float all the way back up to heaven as quickly as you can say cupcake."
The girl smiled. "Yeah, I got that." She did not notice at once that she was now floating about a foot above the grass.
Now look what you've done said the friend.
"I don't think that was supposed to happen," said the guitarist.
The friend touched the cupcake. It liquified into whorls of color before changing into a small flower.
The playground faded. Or maybe the two angels did. I leave that up to your imagination...