Gustavo Santaolalla

I think the person who takes a job in order to live – that is to say, for the money [not for purpose or passion]- has turned himself into a slave.
― Joseph Campbell

I don’t have a specific New Year’s resolution, other than I become more resolute to correct all of my deficiencies. The new year just brings a sense of urgency to me. My overall goal is to become unconflicted.

You might know (or be a person) who is unconflicted. This person is free of internal struggle of any kind, and they have no sense of guilt whatsoever. They love themselves, just as much as they love everyone around them. They have gratitude for their accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

If you’re a teenager, or even in your 20’s, it’s easy to remain unconflicted. However, as your life circumstance alters to accommodate more responsibility, it’s very easy to succomb to the rat race.

The rat race

I define the rat race as: a sense that you must participate in (what is ultimately a pointless) pursuit of money and other benchmarks of societal status. There’s nothing wrong with this in theory — but in reality, the “goal post” is constantly moving farther away.

Now, I believe that we should all pursue wealth, but it should come as a result of pursuing your passion.

For instance, lets say you love rock climbing. Well, one option is to become a climbing instructor. You would then have to move to some amazing location where the climbing is great — and there are rock climbing-tour companies to employ you.

I imagine the pay would be a couple hundred dollars (including tip) for a day’s work — doing what you love. Not bad. Also, your life’s financial demands, at that point, are relatively simple too. You already live in the mountains where the climate is reasonable year round. You know, the same location where “wealthy people” have vacation homes to escape the rat race.

My theory is: by pursuing your passion as employment — your passion will then directly finance your lifestyle and nothing more. The nothing more is important because, if you want something more, you’ll have to alter your lifestyle.

For example, maybe you’ve become slightly envious of the wealthier clientele that your taking on climbing tours each day. [Meanwhile, they most likely envy your simple, minimalist lifestyle.]

You then decide to start your own climbing-tour company where in-office hours, hiring, firing, stress, and the rat race begins. Whereas you had proceeded unconflicted before, material desires now have you entangled in a lifestyle of unease and friction.

Or, maybe it all goes well and your free to rock climb, while the business virtually runs itself. You’ve upgraded from a used Subaru to a BMW X5. The point is — be cognizant of the outcomes of ambition.

A lateral (and maybe the best) move would be to simply raise your rates even higher. Same job, higher pay.

A personal note

I write this essay, because I struggle with this very thing. Despite my own astonishing success as a guitar teacher, it never feels like enough, or that I’ve made any headway. Gratitude is very difficult for me.

I’m left with an anxiety that if  I ‘rest on my laurels’ for a moment — if I take my foot off the gas — my guitar teaching business and Intellimusica will fall apart. Even as a smooth, reverb swept, gentle guitar player — I’m thoroughly mired in the rat race.

This is of course, is patently insane — so my goals for 2015 are to be ambitious, but in a way that’s frictionless and exciting. I have a bunch of things in mind, mainly meditation and yoga — as cliché as that sounds.

Also, it’s worth mentioning the most happy, successful and unconflicted people I know barely engage with social media. It’s very easy to feel inadequate as you browse only the good bits of people’s lives in your Facebook news feed.


(Note: Manolo is Alive is my premium material)

How to play Manolo is Alive by Gustavo Santaolalla

In a way, The Book of Life is actually the Gustavo Santaolalla guitar album that I’ve been looking for since the Brokeback Mountain score. Nothing beats these subtle, thoughtful guitar lines.

Manolo is Alive is part guitar and part orchestral. However, I have converted the whole thing into one long guitar passage.

The guitar tab is spread across only two sheets despite the song’s length. I’ve included breaks ( | ) to divide the song by chord shape. I have also used a ( || ) to symbolize a section change.

The tab is available below:

Manolo is Alive is for intermediate guitar players (and up). This song is played in standard tuning. 

Manolo is Alive for guitar

Written by:

Matthew's dad, Jennifer's husband, bass player - New Invisible Joy, YouTuber, short-film composer, creator of modern content for guitar.