New experiences entail risks [UPDATED]Published 3:52am Monday, October 28, 2013 Updated 5:53am Monday, October 28, 2013
In the last month, I decided to try two new things I have never tried before — smoking meat and ushering at church.
I know, I know — not very exciting. When one thinks of experiencing something new, it’s supposed to be, say, skydiving or bear hunting.
But after going through both “boring” experiences, I can tell you that the process of trying something new, and the emotions that come with the experience, is the same.
I do get, however, that there are risk differences.
A mistake made while ushering in church would mean embarrassment. A mistake made while smoking meat would mean ruined dinner (provided I didn’t burn the house down, but I would say that would be due to negligence rather than ignorance.)
Making a mistake while skydiving or bear hunting could mean death.
Despite the fact that my life wasn’t on the line, for a perfectionistic type like myself, doing something new can be daunting.
I don’t like to make mistakes, and I’m usually hard on myself when I do. Then again, if you never try, you never succeed.
Over the years, I’ve discovered a good procedure when trying something new, as follows:
• Listening to the directions provided by someone who already knows how to do the skill in question, or reading instructions on how to do the skill.
• Digging in and giving the new skill a shot, accepting that you will make mistakes.
• Taking an inventory of your mistakes, and making sure they don’t happen the next time to improve upon them.
Let’s take the church ushering as an example. You watch the church ushers, and you think, “That’s an easy enough job — go up and down the pews and smile at everyone.”
Of course, I managed to screw up a couple of things. The long-time usher told me to get a count of church attendees on the left side of the church, by walking along the side aisle.
When he told me that, somehow I missed the part about walking down the side aisle, which is in shadow, where I could inconspicuously look down the aisle, point my finger at attendees and count to myself.
Instead, I went down the center aisle, where I stuck out like a sore thumb, getting plenty of stares and snickers in the process.
Later on, my daughter and I brought up the collection plates to the altar, and were instructed to wait until after the minister returned before we could return to the back.
On my direction, we took off right away, again getting a confused look from the minister and others.
Ah, the embarrassment.
Apparently, they want us back as ushers, because the demand is so high for them, they’re willing to accept such embarrassing gaffes.
Similarly, smoking meat would seem to be easy.
You just light the charcoal fire, stick the meat on the grill, and cook away.
Except I didn’t realize that, when it comes to a charcoal fire, if you are going to smoke something for, say, five or six hours, you had better have a lot of charcoal in your smoker.
It also should be laying directly on charcoal that is already lit, or it won’t light.
I bought one of those chimney starters to get the charcoal started, and it worked beautifully, just like in the YouTube video. But that was all I put in the smoker.
You may recall the saying about survivalists when it comes to fire — if you think you have enough wood to last the night, double it. I did not.
A couple hours later, the temperature gauge on the smoker dropped to nothing, my pork roast was pink, and I had to finish my pork in the oven to get it to a safe temperature.
But you know? When we ate the pork roast, it was tender, juicy, and had that smoky flavor.
All of my errors, and it still was worthwhile.
It was kind of like playing a lousy round of golf but birdieing the last hole.
It kept me coming back. I’m trying beer-can chicken this week.
I’m getting the fire blazing for that one.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org