Honey Porter Glazed Cod Fillets Last year I sat on a table in a tattoo parlor in Silverlake. Gritting my teeth and trying to ignore the ink being forced into my skin by a sharp needle to cover up a teenage bad decision. Another artist, waiting for his next client, sat down next to me to try to distract me from the pain. The conversation wanders to beer, as it often does with me.
He’d just brewed his first batch of beer with a homebrew kit that he’d been given for his 30th birthday
“It sucked didnt’ it?” I say matter of factly. He looked hurt. “It’s supposed to suck, you’re first batch isn’t about drinking, it’s about learning.”
He smiled, “It was so bad we drain poured the entire batch. It sucked. Hard.”
“Good! That means you have a good palate, if you thought it was good and forced it on your friends, that would be bad. You’re actually off to a good start.”
He side-eyed me, “Really? because I’m pretty discouraged. I don’t even want to try again”
“Because your first tattoo was so awesome that you never put down your gun?”
He laughed, and so did the guy torturing me with his gun, which wasn’t my intention.
“It was so terrible! I feel SO bad for that guy, even still!” He laughs and I see him make the connection, I can see him link the beginning of one obsession with that start of the other.
“Did you learn more than one thing? Because that’s the point. Beer is hard, you can’t expect to get it right the first time. You just learn a few things each time. It gets good, then it sucks again, then it gets better.”
He smiled, “Is it weird that I kind of needed to hear that? I’ve felt like a HUGE failure all week. It was really getting to me. Thank you.”
The tattoo was done, my foot wrapped up like a brisket and I hobbled to my car. I wondered why failure is so bad. Why it can ruin us for weeks. It’s not bad, it’s necessary. It’s valuable. It should make us proud. We did something. We learned something. And we are ready for more.
Go out there, fail big, learn big, move forward.