Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

What, So What, Now What?



My teacher Mike Longo had a great axiom so that one could keep a fire under their own butt, accomplish more and be accountable to oneself.

He had many first time students who would walk in and for their first lesson recite their musical accomplishments to impress him. “Ho hum….”

He’s seen it all, and knew that he’d have to break down their ego if they were to learn. A little humility would actually impress him a lot more than a running list of “I did this, I did that” from someone he’s never met.

So here is the 3 question list:

1. What?
What is it that you have done, accomplished, etc.

2. So What?
Meaning “Ok, now we got that out of the way and it’s over. Other people have accomplished stuff too.”

3. Now What?
“That was then, and it’s over. Present moment is NOW. You’re accountable. What are you doing now?”

How many times have we seen people who have accomplished something and are “stuck” in looking in a “rear view mirror” and identifying with even a 10 or 20 year old accomplishment?

I hold my feet to the same fire. I have just released the Jackson Five Guitar DVD and I am thinking “what, so what, now what?”

Honestly, I’m excited with the “now what?” Will it be more touring, more recording, more practicing guitar, devoting more time to relationships, exercise? More meditation and self discovery?

What will my next years focus be?

The point is, I am not happy to talk about what I have done and beat it to death while life slips by. I am eager to get to work again and get some dirt under my fingernails with the next project. Grrrrrrr…..

So I leave you with this question….no matter what you have accomplished in life, however great…”now what?”

Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

8 thoughts on “What, So What, Now What?

  1. Good post Adam. There is so much to explore in this life, musically and otherwise, that provides an endless source of fascination, stimulation, and creative expression. Life is amazing and it is for living – NOW!

    Be well and have a great day my friend.


  2. It’s great to read your posts. As I travel along this journey of personal development and self discovery it’s encouraging to read things from people that are “further up the road” than I am. Keep the posts coming!

    BTW I saw Tommy a few weeks ago. That guy is amazing! Extraordinary dedication and work ethic.

  3. you could release a cd with 5 versions of So What…..
    And name it (what’s the) Big Deal 🙂

    um…good question actually. I’ll think about it and write a real response. As of now my top priorities are being a good husband and joyful father to my 2 yr old. Even when I am wacked tired and she wakes up a few times at night due to a growth phase. I am a pretty over all accepting patient guy, and at times certainly feel quite tested! and Testy.

    And …playing enough guitar and learning enough new stuff on to keep my happy and relatively sane. Even if that mean playing on 45 minutes or an hour a day….at least staying connected and learning new tunes. Thus making a slow process even slower!

    basic shit I guess…often the most difficult to abide by.

  4. So Incredibly True!

    And it happens with so many things in our life, we bask in this self-contentment and don’t continue to push and build on what we’ve achieved

    Thanks, Adam Summers

  5. As you get older you are more and more aware of your limited time on the planet. Your comment pulls that fact into tight focus. Do you want to lay on your death bed (if you’re lucky enough to get that moment of reflection) and feel like you compromised yourself, your time, your goals? Not to be grim but surprisingly this is meant as a positive comment. A Buddhist aphorism is that death being at your shoulder is a friend, constantly compelling you to make the most of every moment you have. Thanks Adam for all you do.

  6. Dear Adam,

    Now what, you ask? Well, I’ve been playing guitar for over 30 years, since I was about 10. Really only started practicing earnestly a few years ago though. Yeah, I was in bands (from punk to jazz) over the years but practiced only enough to learn a tune not own it. Given, I’ve seen the rewards of diligent practice habits. Yet these past weeks I’ve been thinking about hanging up my guitar playing for good. Why? I’ve been learning lots of great tunes as fingerstyle instrumentals’ tunes like a Jack Wilkins arrangement of “My Foolish Heat” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” (learned by ear from an old Rod Stewart album called Smiler). It’s been a privilege to learn such difficult tunes as solo guitar pieces. But I can NEVER seem to get through a song cleanly, without hitting a few clams or forgetting a tiny part of song… I’m tired of never truly feeling free when I play a song. Cannot seem to meet my own standards and be able to play a song the way I hear it in my head. So I’m between a rock and a hard place: Can’t practice longer to perfect a song time into practicing because of my other work/obligations, and can’t play a song without making little mistakes, except on rare occasions. I would dearly miss playing guitar, but feel like maybe I just don’t have a gift for this, so why keep putting time into this each day? What’s next? Only answer that came to me is to keep playing awhile longer but with a different attitude: If I make a mistake, eff it! So what, I’ll tell myself. Don’t sweat over it, don’t let it ruin the fun of playing. If I can reach a point where I don’t care so much about hitting little clams while playing maybe things will turn around. If I can stop thinking so hard and just let go and play for the hell of it, maybe the joy of playing will come back somehow…. So that’s what I came up with as to Now What? Can you offer any thoughts or suggestions Adam? I’d appreciate it if you can toss me a couple bones. And congratulations on the new Michael Jackson DVD. I especially dig your arrangement of “I’ll Be There.”

    Rock on,

    • Christoph

      My suggestion for you is a goal list, and limit it. As I practice I am finding that the limits of choices make me practice in a focused way…

      Keep going, and maybe get in front of some people to play – if you aren’t…that can add an extra incentive to get better, and also feels good when other people take joy in your music.

      It gets some “fresh air” into a “practice-only-until-i-get-it-perfect” scenario….

      All the best


      • Great advice, Adam.

        Funny you mentioned playing in front of people. This is the longest stretch I’ve gone not playing in public… no gigs, no playing at gatherings with friends, nada. So yeah, maybe this is another reason why the joy has withered a bit. Sharing my music could act as a tonic to pull me out of a rut. Along with setting tighter goals in practice, as you said.

        Appreciate you taking time to address my “dilemma.”

        Here’s to the return of the joy factor,


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