Come Fail With Me
I'd like to try and fail a lot. I mean, I don't think that's what you were looking for from me. Probably folks would like to see me succeed. Trouble is, usually the path to success is paved with multiple failures and perfectionists like me often don't get to the success part because we are PARALYZED by the thought of failure. Firstborn, overachiever, person-with-a-plan, Enneagram 1 personality type (previously called The Perfectionist in that system, now more graciously called The Improver).
So. I took a month to rest after having much overdone things in the first 2 months of the year by putting out an EP and publishing a poetry chapbook and having releases for both, all on top of having a full time job. I had excellent reasons for doing both at once, but I wholeheartedly needed the break after that. I took a month, to rest, to pray, to listen, to STOP. And starting up again, that's the hard part. Not as much in poetry, I'm a little more at home in that realm. But it seems like the music, which is the harder of the two for me to put myself out there with, is getting more response, and people are looking to know when I'm going to play a show – out in the world.
Now, I'm a singer, and songwriter, but not much of an instrumentalist. And I know from some experience that collaborations can go well, annnnnd, sometimes not so well. Even Tommy & I tend to avoid trying collaborations too often as our approaches are pretty different. And I am a Minnesotan, which means it might literally kill me to tell someone it's not working, if it isn't, so there's a bit of me – ok a big bit – that doesn't want to try and fail, because if it's a collaboration and we fail, well then that's sad for me AND sad for the other person/persons. And maybe even worse if I try to pay a musician to play with me and we fail, because then I have failed, I feel I have wasted the money, and maybe someone is playing with me not from love of the music. I have only been in bands we were in because of the love of the music and comradery, and though I am an adult and realize that people need money to live, I also fear someone professional feeling they are wasting their time because I do not know enough about music to direct them effectively, or I am missing my cues because I get distracted and can't count the beats well (even though I got an A in Music Theory in high school, I have forgotten everything I learned).
Living has dangers. Actual living is messy. I've realized I don't want to commit to doing any shows because I can't guarantee perfection. I can't guarantee I will find the right collaborators. I don't know how the sound will evolve. And I don't know how to live in a world with so many unknowns. I like to succeed, and in a lot of areas I am able to. However, in music – I am both in and out of my element – I am forced to walk in faith and I am not sure I always like that very much. In order to share my gifts rather than hoard them, I am forced to be vulnerable in front of others. Collaborators as well as listeners.
Why is there so much terror linked to the risks we must take to do the most worthwhile things?
In college, I had an instructor (I believe later he became a Dr./professor), Bob Smith, who told our class, "I love people who fail a lot." And I said without thinking, "You must love me!" And he said very seriously, "I do, and this is why – it's the people who try a lot of things and fail a lot who find their niche in life." That statement has stuck with me for 20+ years. I don't think I'm ready to stop trying and failing.
I once said, "If I can't succeed, I'd at least like to fail dramatically." Not that I've always lived by that (in fact I try to avoiding failing at all costs, as mentioned!), but I am reminded of it sometimes when I bite off more than I can likely chew, and the chance is clearly there.
So. Come and fail with me. Want to try (and maybe fail) making some music with me? Reach out, maybe we can try it out. Need to dust off some old dreams and write the book you meant to or start the business you have in mind or mend a broken relationship or adopt the foster kids that need your love? You might fail, you will PROBABLY fail, maybe a lot of times, I'm gonna be honest with ya. But there is zero chance of succeeding there if you don't try. I hope I can be your friend and support and a person who says to you, "So what? Everyone's gotta start somewhere/You begin at the beginning".
I'll close this with a favorite quote –
"A man may desire to go to Mecca. His conscience tells him that he ought to go to Mecca. He fares forth, either by the aid of Cook's or unassisted; he may probably never reach Mecca; he may drown before he gets to Port Said; he may perish ingloriously on the coast of the Red Sea; his desire may remain eternally frustrate. Unfulfilled aspiration may always trouble him. But he will not be tormented in the same way as the man who, desiring to reach Mecca, and harried by the desire to reach Mecca, never leaves Brixton.
It is something to have left Brixton. Most of us have not left Brixton."
--How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett