A little background, when I was fourteen I spent one summer working for my dad’s roofing company. When I had finished, I had achieved three things. Enough cash to buy my first electric guitar, a killer farmer’s tan, and a healthy distaste for roofing.
I bought that guitar, and played it constantly. My parents would laugh at how often they would find me asleep on the couch, “Old Blue” clutched right beside me. Playing those six strings gave me a constant during the awkward years of high school and has been a constant for me ever since. I graduated and got my dream job at the time, apprentice luthier at a local music shop. I sold guitars, fixed guitars, talked guitars, breathed guitars, and above all played a LOT of guitars.
I met my wife at that music shop, and some of my fondest early memories of us involve music. She’d be there cheering at gigs or bringing pans of brownies to band practice. I’d often go home after a date and play for hours, sometimes until dawn, just feeling inspired. It’s something that’s always been with me during the moments I want to remember.
In the last couple years, it’s had to share that distinction with another loved activity. Since my wife and I began running it has provided me with an outlet to explore new boundaries and expand my concept of who I am, what I am capable of, and who I want to be. Running and racing ultramarathon distances is an opportunity to challenge myself in ways everyday life could never offer. It has become an integral part of who I am and how I see the world.
When we decided to first try trail running I had no idea how much it would take hold, but the air was filled with the excitement of a new spin on something I already loved. When I decided to attempt to take up a new instrument, the banjo, a similar excitement arose in my gut. A new breath of life given to something already held dear.
So when the thought struck to use my banjo head as a canvas, one thing popped into my head immediately. One of my favorite and most scenic landmarks of the Western States Endurance Run course is No Hands Bridge in Auburn. To me it represents all the work and emotions that go into training for an enormous undertaking like running that race, just as an incredible amount of practice and effort go into mastering a new instrument, or any other art, for that matter.
So here it is, in several states of progress.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go practice….