I want to tell a story. The story of a man who lost everything he loved. When his entire fate seemed to be going against him, he answered back to his luck in the most amazing way. He re-learned everything he had perfected over many many years. Slowly but steadily, he presented a great will power for the entire world to see. He never gave up.

Few years back, a regular day in office. I was working through the emails and finishing up my top priority tasks when someone informed us that there is some live music thing going on in the ground floor of our office building. Anything musical always caught my attention especially when I heard that is was a guitarist who was performing.

We hurried to the stage area where the performance was supposed to happen. It was a relatively small stage since it was a private performance for the employees. There were few acoustic guitars plugged into the amplifiers. A projector setup. We were all seated. The projector started rolling and we could see that it was playing a documentary of a musician - Billy McLaughlin.


The video rolled on showing images of a successful musician performing all the United States. Everything going great for him. He was a different kind of guitarist. He was a tap guitarist. Tap guitarists made music by tapping rather than strumming the guitar. He had seen success as a musician when things started going against what he had hoped.

He was diagnosed with something called dystonia. This is what Google gives us on dystonia:

a state of abnormal muscle tone resulting in muscular spasm and abnormal posture, 
typically due to neurological disease or a side effect of drug therapy.

In short it affects the muscles and in turn, the mobility of the affected limb. Now imagine a guitarist not being able to move his fingers the way he wanted. He being right-handed, his left hand was crucial in tapping and creating chord patterns. A cruel as it may seem, dystonia affected his left arm. Playing guitar became really difficult for him. Many shows had to be canceled and as a result, his life as a musician went down on a spiral.

With gigs canceled, his finance was in ruins and this affected his family life as well, he was in ruins. This is enough for any musician to end his life with depression. He was depressed. It seemed like end of the road for him. But then he decided to do something impossible.

If he can learn how to play guitar right-handed, he thought he can learn again - this time as a left handed guitarist, making use of his right hand for tapping and chords. This meant forgetting everything he had learnt for years and being a beginner again. As a person who has played a bit of guitar, I can tell you how difficult the process is, more so when you are trying to change hands. Your brain keeps confusing you and it is ten times as difficult to learn with your natural hand.

Many weeks of hard work and struggle followed and then the unthinkable happened, he gave a concert for the first time as a left-handed guitarist. He was back. he never gave up and in the end, against all odds, he was successful once again. This is his story, a story of ultimate perseverance. He says it might one day affect his right hand too, but he is not willing to give up until that day. I wish he would play forever, for he is very gifted.

We spend our life listening to paradigms that people define for us. Like “You can’t do this, it’s too risky” or “You are too young or you are too old” etc. Since the time of birth, we are fed all this false ideas and we become restricted in that framework of lies which are thrust upon us. It is a little bit like being in The Matrix. A false world pulled over your eyes to keep you under the illusion of “this is how things work”. A world of control and rules which someone imposed upon us.

We struggle to get beyond all this and see our inner strength. The strength through which a human can achieve anything he wants, with his limitless power. If you go back few centuries and tell the people who lived during those ages that it is possible to walk on Moon, they’ll laugh at you or you’ll be burned at stake. But through constant hard work and persistence we ended up doing that.

This is why it is never a good thing to live by the paradigms of the society. You decide what you can do and if you trust completely and put your mind to it, no one can stop you from achieving anything. I know that there are more motivating stories like Billy’s. But in the end what are you doing listening to these stories? Motivation is something that needs continuous work. Self-motivation is the only way. Let your goals motivate you. Take ownership of your life and stop blaming others for your present situation. If you aren’t happy, do whatever it takes to be happy.

Back to the performance in my office building, he played few heart touching melodies and I was lucky enough to get his autograph on a cd of his greatest hits, which I am listening to as I am writing this. No one can live this life for you, you have to do it yourself. So, do yourself a favour, make it the best for you. As a token of appreciation to yourself. As for Billy’s story and a live video of his guitar skills (left-handed!), you can watch it here. Take a cue. Really.

Short video on his comeback:

Live video of his song “Hold on forever”: