Learning Not to Fail

Lately with the early frustrations of this little Etsy enterprise, I’ve been trying very hard to listen to my own advice. I’m pointing to ME when I say what I use to say to my kids growing up.

“I’m a klutz! I’ll never be able to play tennis because I can’t serve worth snatch!” my adolescent son would say.  And I would tell him…

“Remember the first time you tried to ride a bike without training wheels? You were all over that yard. You couldn’t go five feet without falling. We used up a box of bandaids. ”

“But now, you don’t even think about HOW to ride a bicycle. You just do it. Everything you now do with skill and precision you once didn’t do worth snatch.”

And here I lurge and plod today–a klutz.  Getting these 25 note cards in five sets with envelopes into clear bags with thumbstrips and set labels–I’m never going to get it done. I’m so slow. I’m so disorganized. I’m doing bits of it wrong and have to go back and fix things that should have been right the first time.

But I can see myself a little bit on the skilled side of this awkward, inefficient, slow and fumbly stage. It is getting less frustrating already.

Tomorrow I set out for three more stops for placement, and maybe I’ll seem like I know what I’m doing. At first, you have to pretend. Then finally, you know what you’re doing.


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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. What a great description of what it is like to figure out the human engineering for an unfamiliar task like your packages of cards. I’m glad you can already see the efficient human machine coming into view!