Trying, failing, sometimes succeeding

(I am going to be away from the blog for a few days, probably until next Monday. Nothing dramatic, just to let you all know I will be doing my best to catch up on everything when I get back.)

I must be in a reflective mood today, as I got to thinking about how many times we try things, in a long life. I remember my Dad telling me, “If you never try, you won’t know if you can do it”. He was talking about swimming at the time, but as he had just let go of me in a sea-pool, and I had almost choked on the water, I didn’t get his point at that moment.

The next thing he wanted me to try was to be good at sport. He was the sort of Dad who wanted his son to be the winner, and the sporting prowess of his own youth drove him on. I tried playing football, even though I obviously lacked the natural talent that marks the gifted player. I finally settled for being the goalkeeper, at the age of eight. In my first Sunday morning match, I let in (or failed to save) seven goals, and the team lost 7-0. After that, they chose a different goalkeeper.

I did manage to do quite well at running, at least over short distances. I was chosen to run in the 100 yards for my primary school, and very excited. However, when the day came, my Dad was unable to attend the sports event, so never saw me come first, just that once. When I was older, I tried Hockey, something of an unusual sport for boys at the time. My Dad got me a professional hockey stick, but never managed to find the time to watch me play in a match. And I did OK too.

As I got older, he decided it was time for me to learn to try ‘manly’ tasks. Things like digging up the garden, using power tools, and servicing car engines. Although I had little or no interest in such things, I had to try. My skill with carpentry was non-existent, and that seemed to infuriate him. Perhaps because he was a trained carpenter, and assumed that skill would be inherited. The workings of car engines were also a mystery to me, and I had a tendency to drop important tiny parts as I fumbled in the depths of the mechanism. Digging was easy enough, so I was set to hard labour, re-modelling the large garden under his tutelage.

Next, I had to try to learn about hanging wallpaper, and painting doors with gloss paint. Once again, I tried, but had no apparent skill in these areas either. My brush left bristles in the fresh paint, and the folded wallpaper stuck to itself, before tearing. Dad concluded that I wasn’t trying hard enough, and preferred to do it on his own. When I stated “At least I tried”, he shook his head in disdain.

Once I was grown, married, and living in a place of my own, I had many new things to try. After much effort, I did manage to plumb in a washing machine, but a friend was giving me instructions over the phone, I confess. I bought an electric drill, and was so proud when I managed to put up a series of curtain poles, and a whole wall of shelving. Admittedly, the poles may not have been completely level, but at least one side of the curtains closed easily. Facing facts that I was never going to be a useful house painter or wallpaper-hanger, I paid a professional to do those jobs. I reasoned that I was providing much needed employment for the tradesmen concerned.

I even tried my hand at electrics. Changing plugs was easy, but that lulled me into a false sense of security. I rewired a fan heater, and very pleased with myself, I plugged it in, only to blow everything in the house. At least I then had to learn a new skill, replacing a fuse wire. When we bought a new central light, I decided that I would try to attach it to the fixture in the ceiling. But as I hadn’t thought to isolate the live connection first, I managed to blow myself off of the step ladder, and received a nasty electric shock into the bargain. After that, I employed electricians.

Cars were still a mystery, though I could manage to change a wheel, replace oil and air filters, and even once repaired a carburettor. For anything else, it was a trip to the car dealer, and an expensive bill. The time came when I despaired of trying anything, as I was convinced I would fail by default. Even house plants died in my care, rarely lasting a week. Trying to trim decorative bushes in the small garden resulted in lots of dead shrubbery, as I had presumably cut too deep, and at the wrong time. My wife at the time began to despair of me ever being able to do anything, and made her opinions known to all.

When I applied to join the Ambulance Service, she counselled against it. “You hate blood, you are not a practical person, and you cannot even watch an operation on television. How are you going to be able to do that job?”. “I won’t know, until I try”. Was my reply. So I tried, and for once, I succeeded. Not only did I manage to learn the necessary skills, I was very good at the job too. At the age of 28, I had finally found something that I could do, something that not everyone else could do too.

I can’t tell you just how good that felt.

91 thoughts on “Trying, failing, sometimes succeeding

  1. Some people never find anything they are good at. I can study (or could. My brain isn’t what it used to be), listen to people, and reading (and write a tiny bit), but the list of the things I can’t do and I’m a disaster at is very long. I can’t take pictures, just to mention another thing you are very skilled at. I’m very pleased you kept trying. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  2. AND one of the best ambulancemen that it’s been my pleasure to meet! Skilled, the sort of guy you would want by your side if you were ill or injured, a hero at a major London train crash, Oh, and ‘King of the Chat too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I have been away for over a week once again due to health it is nice to read a motivational and charming post. I hope Kent was a pleasant visit for you. As some have mentioned, I whole heartedly agree that you are a gifted writer which proves a sucess in itself and your humble nature with trying your hands at many things to find your place of belonging is very admirable.

    At the age of 29, I often wonder what mine is , I used to play the piano but it did not last for too long for me to be very good, then I tried to draw but I felt I was not so talented but I suppose ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again seems to go hand in hand.

    Sincerely Sonea

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Sonea. Despite everything, I have a good feeling that things will get better for you, and that one day you will discover that you are very good at something you also enjoy doing.
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

      Like

      1. Thank you for having the faith and the support here. I am trying my best to keep up with managing not only on WordPress but to do my own things though the pain and exhaustion that comes with such an illness is challenging. I have alot to give and my passion with certain things though it can be limited at times. But alas I shall continue to strive through.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I just read your article about writing reviews for Amazon that you did as a Guest Author. I loved it! I am the kind of person who would do something like that, because it makes me feel happy, and satisfied that I might just help someone – with their shopping! 😛 The Vine Program sounds so good though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is always a journey to find what each of us are good at. And, in the end of the journey what does it really matter, We are who we are and through my own eyes that is good enough… Great blog here my dearest friend.. Take care, Laura

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you Pete, for commenting on my You Tube video.. every little bit helps. I’m having fun making the vlogs of sorts… But, then I came down with a cold that lasted over a month, just as I was getting it started.. Never fails , eh… Take care, Laura

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely post Pete. I’m sure thousands of people were grateful that you weren’t good at decorating, gardening, cars or DIY. You were helping lots of peopl and you should be very proud of all you achieved x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am sure your dad meant well-but what a burden for a young boy-one thing you did achieve in the midst of all that-was fortitude, and apparently the courage to try again. These things surely have been wonderful factors in your life. On top of all that-you are a writer!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Being a parent is tough and I am sure he was trying his best. You turned you to be who you are , and not bit shabby! Haha. I have learned from the “mistakes” my parents made. I guess my kids will learn from mine. You have a good day and celebrate just who you are! sincerely, Michele

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Everyone’s good at something, it’s just a matter of finding out what. This just shows you one shouldn’t foist one’s own expectations on one’s kids, something I’ve tried to avoid doing, how successfully, i don’t know. I see so many parents try to live their life through their kids. Have a lovely weekend, Pete🌺

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said, GP Cox.
      Me neither, no complaining. And you are very good with the computer, and you are an excellent author, a music and film expert and and and best of all, very good at taking care of Ollie!! Doggie persons are very competent. 🙂 ❤
      Have a lovely break, take it easy. x

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Some people have no skills in teaching others and no patience either. A perfectionist has no tolerance for less than perfect work and constant irritation, demeaning comments and snide remarks turns even the most willing learner off. Fortunately for me my dad was pretty hopeless at sport or diy and I learned the practical skills from my mother who just got on with it. I still managed to electrocute myself though at the age of 12 when I replaced a light bulb in a standard lamp without switching it off! Lesson learned 🙂
    Enjoy your break, whatever, wherever and stay warm!!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Same experience for me Pete, I do remember in interview saying I did not like needles and was told don’t worry you only have to use those if you want too. It didn’t take long to see that the needle I didn’t like was the one going into me. From then on no stopping………

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am sorry you will be away in that I will miss your presence, but whatever it is you are doing, I hope it’s intellectually stimulating and relaxing. It’s a parent’s job to introduce to their kids all kinds of stuff with hopes they will excel and the “gift” found. That sure translates to insecurities if one doesn’t have the necessary talent. You found what you needed to do and I’m happy for you. You are also a solid, talented writer, so chalk that up to your plus column. Everyone loves you here, so see you soon!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I think it’s a travesty that fathers try to force their sons to be what they are. Fathers and sons often have very different talents, very different interests, and very different personalities. I’m glad you found your niche in life. I dare say you are also a successful blogger.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Aw Pete, we are all useless at some things, and all have a special thing that we’re good at, or at least like doing! It’s a very special thing to be good at saving lives and helping people. Will miss you while you’re away but have a good time whatever you’re doing.

    Liked by 2 people

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