When you are playing in a band, there’s something called a train wreck. It’s when everyone gets so off beat/tempo/key that you have to stop. The song is off the tracks and there’s no way to recover it. You have to stop and start over.
It’s never fun. I still have a memory of a train wreck at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago, and that was almost 20 years ago. It’s a very public screw-up. I mean, you’re literally on a stage for everybody to see. It’s not a private failure that we can beat ourselves up about and move on. It’s a big deal.
Or so we think. Olin Miller was a comedian who was quoted in 1937, “You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do!” When we screw up in public, when we have a trainwreck, we think that it’s going to last in people’s minds. But it doesn’t.
We keep wanting to dwell on our mistakes because we think that everyone else wants to. This is where it’s useful to remember that we’re not that important. Everyone else just moves on because they have other activities to get to.
It’s valuable to give ourselves permission to move on as well. Not only does it help in that moment, but if we can move past our own public failures, we can know that they aren’t the end of the world. It gives us the courage to try more activities that could possibly end in a train wreck. Our imagined picture of what will happen if we go off the tracks is usually more than enough to keep us from even trying. And that’s the tragedy.
For the last two months, the links in the BackStage Pass didn’t work. That’s a pretty public mistake. It was even more self-irritating that I made the same mistake two months in a row. And unfortunately, it wasn’t one I can blame on anyone else.
But besides the initial anger at myself, I let it go. If I’m going to put out the amount of content I do into the public space, I’m probably going to make even more mistakes (although I’m triple-checking the links this time). I can’t get hung-up on it. When a band screws up on stage, they just stop. Often the worst offender goes, “Yep, I was totally off, sorry!” And then they start playing again. No big deal.
I’ll make more mistakes in the future. I’m sure of it. And I’m sure that you’ll forgive me. Or at least you’ll probably forget about it quickly as the pressing matters of your own life take your attention.
Don’t let the fear of a train wreck stop you. It’s your judgement, not other people’s. So let it go and move on.