Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Missed Expectations

It started with a search online. The search led to a phone call. Did weekends work? Sunday did, and V became my guitar teacher. Since then, on almost every Sunday we’ve both been in the Bay Area, I’ve gone to V for guitar lessons. The routine might be broken by tour dates for his band or trips I’d take outside the Bay Area, but I had grown accustomed to resuming lessons when the missing party returned.

We’ve been engaging in this pattern for almost two years now, and so my expectations were that this holiday would be no different. I’d practice on my sister’s guitar, return the first week of January, and we’d resume again. While I would practice on my sister’s guitar, shortly before the holidays, I learned I would be flying to Zurich for work. It was exciting, but in the back of my mind, I felt bad about the lessons I would be missing. I flew out for the holidays, practiced guitar at my sister’s, bought tickets for Zurich. The new year came and went, and I told V I couldn’t resume lessons for another two weeks. We planned to resume things on the 22nd. Then, I went to Zurich, discovered a music room in that office with multiple guitars, and played there a couple nights before heading back to my hotel. Then I flew back into the country, ready to resume lessons the following weekend.

Today was the big day, and I was pretty psyched. I spent the trip to the city thinking about the lesson to come, questions I had about properly stringing a guitar, and the potentially new music we might play. It was kind of rainy, so naturally, the door to the music school was closed when I arrived. I tried opening it, but it was locked. I called V. It went to voicemail. I left a message. I waited a few more minutes, then sent a text. I pressed a buzzer by the door. Someone came down and noticed my guitar. “No one’s there today, but maybe they’re coming.” I nodded, waited a few more minutes, then sent a text noting that I was leaving.

On the trek back home, the thoughts of what I’d do during my lesson were replaced by thinking about the consequences of my missed expectations: two hours lost heading to and from lessons when there were none to be had. Maybe I could find a way to avoid situations like this from happening in the future. A call to V after a long pause to confirm that lessons are still on might work. But was I getting enough out of my lessons with V that it was worth the inconvenience of heading to the city? Maybe I could find a teacher closer to where I lived now. With a teacher nearby, I could even move lessons to a weeknight or Saturday, and free up my Sundays.

I returned home, and there was still no response. I started searching for guitar teachers in the East Bay. There were a lot of results. One of them looked promising.

We can get so caught up in a routine that we never question it, getting used to the pattern and what the expected outcome should be. When those expectations are broken, we may ask questions. Do we adjust our expectations or alter the pattern we’re in?

V got back to me before I had a chance to contact anyone. He had sent me a text while I was in Zurich that had never gotten to me to cancel this week’s lessons. He wanted to know if I was free next Sunday. I responded “yes,” still uncertain about the answer would be in the long term.

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