my dog's best friend comes by from time to time to visit. we have to spell his name around our house because the very thought of him causes so much excitement it's hard to bear. when betty is just about jumping out of her skin either when her friend comes over or when i come home or go to pick her up from her vacation spot, she grabs the first toy she sees to show it off. i like to think of it as her way of story telling. here's what i've been playing with since i've seen you last. here's what i can do with it. here, you try it. try to take it away. see how strong i am. it could be that none of that is in her head at all. it could be that she feels like she'd better grab something or else she just might bite me because she's so excited. or it could be that she just wants to play. but it makes me think of the many ways of expression. many art forms. many teaching styles. many sports. many languages. many studies. max is a big boy dog, one month older than betty. he teaches her how to stay around and play with us rather than running off to find food in neighbors' yards. he teaches her to come in the house with us when the games are over. he teaches her to drink like a big slobbery dog out of the big water dish. he teaches her to be and have a best friend. so when i started spontaneously singing "ma-a-a-a-a-aps" from the "yeah yeah yeahs" the other day, betty's eyes lit up and her body stiffened ready to spring for the great outdoors to see her pal in the yard. no such luck. but when he is there and i say "go see maxi" and she leaps like a bunny all through the field until she finds him, i am in the lucky position of witnessing pure joy. that's the draw toward guitars. that's the draw toward learning and listening to music. that's what we pay for to either learn or listen to in classrooms, studios, clubs, concert halls. as i played a lick during an impromptu jam with susan werner one day last year, she said "i want that for christmas," and i knew she felt the joy of music in the right spirit of fun and excitement. you can't force that stuff. it's as natural as betty and max. when it's right, it just is. today, i have a lot of work to do for school and for a magazine assignment and some general other parts of life to take care of, but there's no way i'm doing any of it right now because it's in the seventies here in new england, and i am following my heart to the great outdoors with betty. you gotta be flexible with that stuff.