Never give up
I grew up with the unspoken mottos “waste not, want not,” “make do or do without” and “never give up.”
My dad would go hunting every chance he had. Not only did he love to hunt, but it provided most of the meat we used throughout the year. Whenever he brought home a deer or a rabbit, I wanted to turn the hide into leather. Since no one in my family knew how to do this, a part of me was always saddened as I saw the hide get tossed away. I saw it as a waste.
With the help of books from the library, I tried many times over the years to create leather from one of those hides; failing miserably every time and sometimes ending up with a fetid pile of mush. Although discouraged, this country girl doesn’t give up easily.
Years passed, I got married and had children. I loved teaching my boys about the great outdoors and how to use nature to make things. Once, while they were very young, we went on a field trip to a living history park. As we wandered along the lightly graveled trail and encountered the breathtaking surroundings, I became aware of the fact that I was in my element.
After passing through the 1600s primitive camp and meandering through the forest trail, we turned a corner to discover a 1750s encampment. The interpreter was standing by a log, which was lifted on one end to waist height. The log was held up by two logs under it for legs. The top ends of the legs had been rounded off and inserted into holes on the underside of the main log. There was something draped over the upper end of the log which appeared to be an animal hide. It grabbed my attention and off I ran to see this sight.
The interpreter was demonstrating how deer hides were hand dressed (brain tanned) in the 1700s frontier. OH, BOY! I started asking question after question. About an hour into this onslaught, he suggested I get a certain book and read it.
On the way home, we stopped by a library to get the book and, of course, they didn’t have a copy. They placed a hold order with a sister branch and said they would call when it came in. I went home and anxiously awaited its arrival.
The day came when the library called to inform me the book was in, and I drove out to retrieve it. Once I got home, I studied every page. Then I had to wait for hunting season to obtain a hide. Good grief! So close, yet so far away.
Hunting season arrived and I acquired my coveted hide. I worked diligently on every step of the process. It took about a week to complete, with the final step taking most of the day. I did it! The hide came out so soft and beautiful. I just had to go back to the patient man I annoyed and show him what I did.
While holding the supple hide he asked if I might be interested in volunteering there to teach the public how to process them.
This happened more than 20 years ago and opened a new chapter in my life as a historical interpreter. I learned many more skills during that time which, in turn, opened more doors.
Failures will happen. We often learn more from our failures than from our successes. Do we allow the failure to define who we are, or do we use it as a stepping-stone to grow.
Thomas Edison is often quoted as saying, “I haven’t failed 10,000 times; I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that it won’t work.”
Although there are times when giving up on something is appropriate; when we are having trouble finding a job, going through health issues, or just wanting to learn something new, don’t give up. You never know what doors may open if you keep trying.