The Theory of Practice

Yesterday, I wrote about practice, or the lack thereof.

Here is a thought attributed to people as widely varying as Yogi Berra and Albert Einstein, but probably a Yale student called Benjamin Brewster writing in 1882 said, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.”

That sounds profound, yet also seems a bit of nonsense.

However, I can (and do) have theories about practicing on my guitar. I know various scales to practice fingering, chord progressions for a variety of songs, maybe even a theory of tuning before I begin.

My practice should follow those theories.

I pick up the guitar. It is out of tune. I don’t feel like tuning it just then. I put it down. The theory might have been good. The practice sucked.

I sit to meditate. I know about posture. The theory of breath. Techniques of prayers and mantras. Some days I sit in a slouch. Can’t focus on my prayer verse.

I suppose there must be a phrase in all cultures uttered by parents and teachers, “Practice makes perfect.” But that is not accurate.

Perfect practice makes perfect. And that requires intention, attention, and energy.

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