It's good to be bad at something


I used to play bass in a honky tonk band. And I wasn’t very good at it. I had picked up bass in college, in large part because with big fingers and playing only one note at a time instead of chords, it was much easier than guitar. When some friends said they were going to start a band, and the music was mostly going to be the two kinds: country and western, I was in. It sounded like a great way to spend time with friends and have somewhere to be on Monday nights. The songs were mostly G-A-D three-chord numbers, not too complicated, a little swing beat or walking scale here and  there.  I can almost keep rhythm, but there is nothing impressive or showy about my bass playing. At the office, I’m a writer, and my survival depends on it. Being good, or having to appear good, not only puts pressure on me when facing the blank page, but also compels me to sometimes make the easier choice, the one I know is going to work because it worked last time. When I play bass, I don’t have much pretense (except making rock and roll faces—gotta make rock and roll faces!). I’m not a front man, I only sing on the novelty song, I’m not leading the show. I’m in the back, nodding to the drummer. Yeah, the rhythm is important, but without having to be in the spotlight, I can actually just do the best I can with what I’ve got, take some chances, and maybe actually get better.