Chapter 4: The Guitar

guitar-pianoFrom the List of ALS Ironies

When you decide to get your first guitar, you are immediately faced with something that feels like unimaginable cruelty: If you are right-handed and far from ambidextrous, like I am, you are supposed to use your right hand to strum the strings, the much easier part of the process, and you use your left hand to place your fingers in utterly alien and seemingly impossible configurations on the fretboard in order to form chords.

I experienced this challenge as I imagined someone with paralysis might, you try to send messages from your brain to your appendages, instructing them to move as you’d like them to, but they, especially the pinky and ring finger, simply refuse, or they move reluctantly and with so little precision as to make the task you are attempting feel entirely out of reach.

Many a guitarist-wannabee has tried and failed, so completely heartbroken that the dream of being a musician is forever exorcised from the realm of possibility.

I, however, persevered, I improved through years of practice, I became gradually able to play music of increasing complexity, requiring greater and greater left hand dexterity.

So, which hand first fell victim to ALS?

Of course, it was the left.



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