Nothing Beats A Failure But A Try

So, my sourdough bread attempts turned out to be excellent birdseed.

Give me some dry yeast, and I can make a loaf of bread as good or better than any you ever tasted.

Give me only sourdough to work with and things go sour. Real sour.

The first loaf looked reminiscent of the monster from It Conquered The World. The second loaf looked like my honey wheat bread, but it smelled and tasted like sauerkraut.

Neither loaf went to waste. I threw them out back and the birds devoured every crumb.

Every day I work with music students. It always surprises me how apologetic we can be when we make a mistake on our first attempt. We expect ourselves to pick up a banjo or bake a loaf of bread without ever going through a learning process.

When I made the first loaf, I forgot to subtract the liquid and flour content of the starter from the recipe. I’ll figure out what went wrong with the second loaf before I start the third. Oh, don’t kid yourself. There will be a third.

Folks, there is no shame is failure or mistakes. It is how we learn. I started messing with Linux back with a boxed copy of Mandrake from the Walmart in Pokomoke City, MD. I would wreak havoc on my computer as I tried to understand how it all worked. When I got it running, I would tear it down and start over again.

You can’t be afraid of the system you are trying to learn.

When my father and I started out on radio, the owner of WKHI 106.5 FM said, “Do whatever you want. Nobody is going to listen, anyway.”

We jumped in without thinking about the repercussions. Nobody ever bothered to show us how anything worked! I taught myself how to produce, co-host and engineer a live radio show while we were broadcasting. A year later we were the top-rated Sunday night show in our broadcast area. People out of range started trading tapes of old shows and bolting radio antennas to the roof. It got so crazy that commercials started interfering with the programming.

Opry Sunday Night was by no means a perfect show. We had no target audience other than ourselves. We played the music we liked, Everything from metal to polka. Classic country, bluegrass and old 78 records. When we got a terrible record, we played a bit of it, shot that turkey out of the sky and gave the CD to an unlucky caller. We had live music, interviews with legendary musicians and the two of us savaging each other. The police showed up twice, the station parking lot became a sort of tailgate party and we gave banjo lessons live on the air. It worked because we were willing to try anything.

The station owner took all the credit and the ratings dropped like a rock after we moved on.

At 7:00 PM Eastern Time this Wednesday, we will be firing up Zoom to launch the first meeting of The Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society. We have done a crazy amount of work to get things to this point, but there is no way to know exactly what is going to happen when the camera goes live.

You cannot die from embarrassment. I know this to be a fact. When Amy and I were dating, I wanted to make our first Valentine’s Day together nice for her. I reserved a table at a nice restaurant, got her flowers…

I realized on my way to the date that I was not dressed for the occasion. I stopped at Target, found a pair of slacks that were close to my size and ducked into a fitting room to try them on. As I was trying to get the pants on, I tripped and fell backwards, tearing the door off its hinges and landing flat on my back, feet in the air and pants wrapped around my ankles.

So, no. You can’t die from embarrassment.

Sometime tomorrow I will be posting information on how you can take part in The Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society. Don’t expect us to know exactly what will happen, and at the same time don’t be afraid to join in on the fun. One lesson I have learned well in my fifty years around the sun is that life is short. Don’t miss out. Come and play with us.