I've been playing guitar since I was 15. I started with a crappy £20 nylon string guitar, the traditional prove it guitar before moving on to something more expensive, which would be my Epiphone Les Paul Junior that still has all the teenager stickers on, and my cream satin finish Squire Stratocaster.
The Strat became my favourite before long. The satin finish was gorgeous to the touch, the whammy bar adding new ways to play1, and then there was just the feel of it when playing stuff by my favourite guitarist of all time: John Frusciante.
It being my favourite hasn't stopped it from being neglected over the years, with me being too distracted by the myriad of other crap to maintain it. Some of the saddle screws had somehow gone missing, leaving them help in place by the string only, years of finger grease had accumulated on the fretboard, and just like everything we owned at the time, it looks like some black mould stains had gotten into the cavity.
These should all have been a call to action but there was always other important things to spend money and time on. Until the other day when the ancient high E string finally snapped. If I wanted to keep playing, I'd have to sort it out.
As I was scraping off crud and trying not to inhale the copious amounts of isopropyl alcohol spray being used to clean the fretboard, I got to thinking about the other areas of my life fallen victim to the same mentality. Friendships petering out, my health and weight in particular, hobbies, studies, entire paths in life. Always something better to do, or overshadowed by a crisis threatening to take me over the edge.
Like the Strat, however, most things can be reclaimed with a little bit of maintenance. Reach out to that guy you haven't spoken to in a while, see how they are2. Pick up that book you started reading a few weeks back but put down to deal with a family crisis. Maybe don't order pizza tonight, and cook something at home instead3.
The littlest things can have an effect, and enough of them will snowball.
My Strat could still use a professional tune up, and I think I ordered the wrong gauge strings, so my bridge isn't sitting just right. But it's playable again, and much, much cleaner. Baby steps and right minded progress.
Now I've just got to play it hard enough to get rid of that 'new strings' sound.
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And safer ways too. Don't bend your guitar necks, kids.↩
Unless they've turned into a major Facebook bigot or something; sometimes happy memories are just enough.↩
Or if your hunger will only be slated by that divine foodstuff, pick up a frozen one instead; chances are it's better for you, even if that's marginally.↩