I was twelve, maybe close to thirteen. I was in the Boy Scouts with my friend Clarke, and it was probably the only sane thing going on in my life at the time. I was charged with making a flag. In any other household it would have become an event numerous members would want to help with. At my house I was told it would be expensive, but I could do it, but I had to do it myself. My parents were dealing with much larger issues that didn’t allow them much time for arts and crafts. So I took it on myself.
The troop was making numerous flags, why now, I cannot tell you, but my flag was the yellow “Don’t Tread On Me.” With the snake! It was so cool. No way could I let them down.
So, somehow, I managed to replicate that flag. It was flat out gorgeous!
I went to the fabric store and bought the yellow cloth. I folded it over and hemmed around all four sides. I made a stencil out of grocery bags for the snake and traced in the outline. I then filled in the colors of the body, markings, eye, tongue and grass below. I also made a stencil of the words below the snake and very carefully transferred them onto the flag.
I worked on it for about a week, because I really wasn’t given much more time. But that didn’t matter. I was a member of the troop and would do my part.
When all was said and done, I turned in my flag and a big presentation was given and my flag was there, but it was not MY flag. Someone else had made another one, because my flag did not say Don’t Tread On Me, it said DON’T THREAD ON ME!
No one ever said I blew it, but I knew I had and it still hurts, God only knows how many years later.
I think it was that moment that I started inspecting everything I did. Since then I have become a perfectionist for having things done right. I am not a weirdo about it like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, but do have a few personal faults we won’t discuss here, but there is not much I miss when doing a project now, that many people do miss.
I have learned a lot by making mistakes. Looking back, most of all I know has been self taught through trial and error. I won’t say that everything I have accomplished has been based on errors, because I have also had many successes.
It is just that when you are 13 and things don’t go right, it is the end of the world. How fortunate we are that we then become 14 and then 17 and then 25 and now 66.