After smoking the first of my new guitar pedals that showed up today I began to reflect on failure and my propensity for jumping into things knowing it may well turn out badly.
For example, this past weekend I got dared to eat a heap of wasabi. I knew it was probably a bad idea, but I did it anyway. Now I know exactly why one shouldn’t eat a mound of wasabi. Your stomach will be tied up in knots for at least an hour and the only cure is to eat cupcakes. Now it’s easy to say, “well of course you shouldn’t eat heaps of wasabi you bonehead! What did you expect would happen.” But rather than speculate about the “bad things” that may or may not happen I decided to learn the consequences firsthand.
This has been a pattern I’ve followed most of my life and I feel that despite having done an incredible number of dumb things, I’ve mostly turned out alright. At the very least I have a string of entertaining stories from it all.
A few things I’ve learned the hard way:
- Don’t disregard proper safety procedures when mixing up low-order explosives in your parents kitchen.
- Don’t go camping with only cotton clothes and no rain gear. If you are, make sure you’re well-versed in the signs indicating the onset of hypothermia or are travelling with someone who is.
- The minute you realize you’re lost in the outdoors, STOP and think through how to find your way back to familiar surroundings.
- Don’t mouth off people who are big enough to beat the stuffing out of you with one hand.
- Don’t live paycheck-to-paycheck. In addition, keep a well-stocked “rainy day” fund in a safe investment vehicle. The company you work for could very quickly find itself in financial trouble if sales take a dip.
- Make sure you always have an open line of communication with your girlfriend.
- Don’t, under any circumstances, drink shots of Cuervo Gold tequila.
- In fact, if you’re drunk enough to think that ordering shots of anything is a good idea, then you should probably switch to drinking water.
- With the exception of country, rockabilly, and Cookie Monster style death metal, I cannot sing in any other style and have it even sound remotely good.
- Don’t jump into a new hobby/activity/sport by buying a pile of gear before you’ve tried it and are sure that it’s something you enjoy and want to commit to long-term.
- Chevy Caveliers can drive through pools of water that reach the top of the tires and they won’t stall out.
- On a side note, if you find yourself stuck in a pool of water deep enough to kill the engine, you can still walk the car out with the starter if you’re quick enough to do it before the entire engine compartment floods.
- Don’t put too much stock in people’s opinions of you — unless they’re paying you or having sex with you.
- Don’t ever pass up the opportunity to see a band you really want to see. You never know when the band’s going to break up or a member is going to die or even if their next album (or tour) will suck terribly.
- Don’t blatantly cut off a vehicle, you never know when it will be an undercover police car.
- Speaking of police, make sure your vehicle always has a working muffler attached to it. If you do get pulled over for a missing muffler, don’t turn the wrong way onto a one-way street when you pull over. It’s also a good idea to make sure your driver’s side window will roll down otherwise you will have no choice but to hop out of the car when the officer pulls you over. This will likely cause the officer to place his hand on his gun and demand to know if you’ve been drinking.
I’m partly writing this to make me feel better about blowing up a moderately-expensive guitar pedal tonight. Mostly I wanted to share my realization that I would rather try something, even when I know it will likely end in a ball of flames, than be stuck wondering what would have happened because I was too chicken to risk failing.
If anyone wants to hear one of the stories that any of the above life lessons came out of I’d be happy to tell it to you over a beer sometime.