Keep Your Chops Up

In the midst of a discussion about writing, my uncle who speaks the language of music quoted Louis Armstrong, offering me not only guidance but advice.

”Keep your chops up,” he said. This means to maintain “sharpness of skill” by regularly practicing your talent.

Formed from the lips of a musical master, the expression came about in reference to music, but was translated in direction to literature. As an artist, my uncle gifted me with wise words that will not only enhance my abilities but has inspired this piece.

It is simple to find moments of comfort and delay. In my own experience, writers block is the enemy. Regardless of the hatred I bear towards those solemn hours of darkness, I cannot deny its existence. I find that if I keep up with my writing however, seldom do I collide with such destruction. Having listened to my uncle and taken his advice, I applied this not only to my work, but life.

When entering a relationship, at what point do you find yourself growing comfortable and the flame of romance begins to die? Is this because perhaps you aren’t “keeping your chops up” when it comes to your significant other? Has the everyday “I love you” grown less frequent leaving spaces of romance now vacant? In regards to education and career, have you discovered that the stability it offers now allows for a lack of motivation?

It is simple to fall into rituals of comfort that result in less “sharpness of skill.” As I have often said in previous blogs, we are all guilty of being human. You must allow yourself to sense when your blade begins to weaken in order to establish an eternal point which can never dull.

As a new semester of school begins, I find the ambition within fade from what was once a zealous drive to a lagging obligation. I must remind myself at the start of each day that regardless of the time I have spent on my education, I have no excuse to grow slothful in the coming months. Once you allow your wits to dull, you can no longer allow your mind to expand with knowledge.

I have come to understand that the more I bring my pen to paper in a process of creation, the more logical my writing becomes in composition. As soon as I allow myself to stray from the text, I see the exaggerated effort it takes to manifest a piece only half as decent as my last. As I maintain my art on a regular basis, not only do I craft more enhanced sentences of expression but continually grow as a writer.

To manifest this thought into a lifestyle can only allow development in all aspects of life. In living this way, a relationship can only flourish into something even deeper than before. The firing flame of love should continue to burn and never be extinguished.

Whether it is telling your wife how beautiful she is on a daily basis, or continually expanding upon your talent, eliminate the allowance of falling victim to structure and repose. Though the journey of life has moments of repetition, allow yourself to find inventive ways of maintaining the ardor burning deep within. Stay true to your passion and loved ones always by “keeping your chops up”.

Dedicated to my Uncle Mark, talented drummer/musician.


5 thoughts on “Keep Your Chops Up

  1. Elise,

    I am absolutely humbled that I had an influence on you with our discussion. I always learn something from your blogs…and I’m also challenged by what you have to say.

    Keep up the good work. Fight the good fight and yes, KEEP YOUR CHOPS UP!


    “Unkel” Mark

  2. you are emerging as a thoughtful and insightful writer. Sometimes the very thing we love the most we avoid for want of perfecting it….when perfection will always be allusive. But watching something emerge and transform into something better than it was is always the goal…and if we did’nt always have something to strive for ,what a boring life it would be.
    I love you Elise

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