Never, Never, Never Give Up: From Failed Musician and High School Dropout to the Halls of Academia

3년 전

Sometimes the storm is raging around us and we think we are all alone.

Why I Have Not Been Faithfully Posting This Week

I wanted to share this with everyone on Steemit. I have been posting a little less regularly because I am very busy this last week. As I explained in my introductory post, I quit high school on October 10, 1979 in hopes that my future was in rock and roll. About nine months later I realized I had seriously screwed up and joined the military. The Coast Guard was good to me and over the years I took a college class here and there until I had enough credits to receive a Bachelors of Science. Interestingly in spite of my love of physics, I became a history teacher. While I know I am not that high school drop out educationally, internally I still am in many ways.

Tomorrow I am defending my doctoral dissertation. This has been quite a journey for me. I wrote it about my time as an inner-city teacher, some of it is my basis for my writing here. I am not sharing this to tell you how smart I am, I am telling you this so you know that no matter how big the mistake is that you have made in your life, you can come back from it.

Like Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel Said: Don't Give Up

Before I joined the military there were some really dark days. There were two weeks when I had nothing, and I mean nothing to eat. My diet was water. I was so desperate I went through all of my clothing looking for spare change. Those two weeks were non-stop storms and no work; it was awful (there was a horrible recession in 1979/80). But I survived it, since then I have to have a full pantry.

I was constantly hustling for work whether as a day laborer on construction sites or washing cars. If it was honest I was up for it. I was often working on an empty stomach and praying I could make it until the check got cashed. You never realize how many food commercials there are on television until you are really hungry and sleeping in cheap motel rooms.

My cool rock and roll picture

A Wisp Of A Boy In the Halls of Academia

So tomorrow is a huge day for me. From an unskilled wisp of a failed rock and roll musician to defending a dissertation, this is a big deal for me. So please indulge me a few words of advice. One, never give up on your dreams. As soon as I am done with my dissertation I am working with my artist to get the artwork for my debut CD finished, it is at 90%. I am also working on a marketing plan. The music is mastered and ready, I am very happy. Some of those songs are 35 years old and should be heard. Two, you have never screwed up so badly you cannot come back from it. If a dirty gutter rat can defend a dissertation, you can accomplish your dreams. Three, always tell the people you love how you feel about them. Someday my children will never see me again. What is the last memory I want them to have of me? I want them to hear me say “I love you.”

Peace, love and rock and roll,


Photo Credits: All pictures were taken with my Canon EOS60D, I photographed the tree in the North Dakota snow storm. My rock and roll picture was taken by my musical partner's son. The last shot was taken by son 2.

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Hello! I am Mike K. I am an educator, lifelong student, military vet and wannabe musician. I have a love of history, economics, philosophy and motorcycles. I am quickly moving from minarchy to Christian anarchy philosophically and want people to stop meddling. My debut CD should be out soon!


Riding in Tennessee with my son on the Green Eyed Snake

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Thank you very much.

That image of the tree is freakin crazy awesome. Good luck tomorrow buddy.


That was one of those dumb luck pictures. In fact when I put the RAW in Photoshop I could not make it any better than it was. Thanks.


"There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs." Ansel Adams.

Wow, that's inspirational. I had a chance to jump from my bachelors degree right into a doctorate program because I had the opportunity to do the equivalent of a masters thesis project during my senior year (5th year senior, so I had the time). I declined on the thesis project and from time to time I've asked myself that dreaded question, "what if?"

Good luck, sending thoughts and prayers your way. I'm sure you will rock it!


Thank you. Might have beens can always be turned into soon will bes if you want. As Pat says above, I am sure your path impacted people who needed you. Thank you for you kind wishes.

I'm glad you're giving yourself a second chance with your music, but your blog made me start thinking about Field of Dreams. If you had succeeded at music when you were young, you might not have become a teacher when you did--or ever--and therefore wouldn't have changed the lives you've changed.

Chris Stewart had a very short-lived career as a drummer with Genesis, an effort that had started with high school friends playing together. He wasn't considered good enough for the band to keep him on. He eventually bought a farm in a remote part of Spain and wrote a series of hilarious memoirs beginning with Driving Over Lemons. I selfishly am so glad he failed as a young musician. If he had succeeded back then, the trajectory of his life would have changed, and Driving Over Lemons and the books that followed wouldn't exist. Even if he had written books, they would be different books.

I hope that all your life experiences that resulted from that early failure will enrich your music.


I am a huge Genesis fan (particularly of the Ant/Steve era) and know Chris' work. What a fantastic comment, you have made my evening. Thank you. You are right, sometimes there are more important things we need to do.


Your comment made my evening. I hope you don't mind, but I wrote a blog about it.


Wow, thank you.