“Practice Makes Perfect” sometimes.


I think it was my mother who first said to me: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” We’ve all heard it. We may even have used that line as an intended source of encouragement to others. At face value, it seems to be a noteworthy and reliable source of advice. The same concept is at times expressed: “Practice makes perfect.”


I have a good friend who encouraged his son to continue with his guitar lessons by saying: “Everything is hard until it isn’t”. That too makes good sense. His son really wanted to learn to play the guitar, but found the process more difficult than he had imagined.


Speaking of guitars, a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a dad who shared a piece of information about his youngest son that I didn’t know. Actually, the story the dad shared was initially surprising information to him as well. It was associated with his youngest son’s high school graduation. The father of one of his son’s friends said something to him about their sons playing their guitars and singing at their graduation. The other father was elated with a sense of pride.


Of course, that couldn’t be right. My friend, replied, “You must be mistaken. My son doesn’t play the guitar.” He could intuitively sense the embarrassment that would come the family’s way were the story true. His son wasn’t a musician. Much to his surprise, the story was true and instead of proving to be a source of embarrassment, it proved to be a source of family pride. His son was an accomplished guitarist and singer.


I was intrigued by the story, so I asked my friend’s wife if the story he told about their son was true. Absolutely it was true. The thing that surprised me most is that, according to the mother, their son started taking guitar lessons in the fourth grade. Somehow his dad missed that information. According to the mother, the father was so involved in the baseball career track for his second oldest son that he was totally oblivious to the extracurricular interests and pursuits of the youngest son.


Once again, baseball is king. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Hannah Keyser expresses it this way in her blog related to the same topic: “If baseball is inherently a game of failure, the slog through the minor leagues can sometimes seem like a study in ignominious repetition. The long bus rides, bad hotels, and sparsely-attended games in forgettable towns: I imagine it can all start to feel like throwing a beach ball into the wind.


“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Could the same be true in the concept of marriage? In the opening line of his book entitled “Anna Karenina”, Leo Tolstoy expressed states: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Interestingly, “The character Anna Karenina is an aristocratic Russian woman who leaves her husband for a rich count named Alexei Vronsky. Their affair has tragic consequences for Anna. In a contrasting subplot, a country landowner named Konstantin Levin finds happiness in his marriage to Kitty, the sister-in-law of Anna’s brother”.


And then of course, there is the “no brainer” variation of the same motto: “If at first you don’t succeed, do it the way your wife told you.” I think the one that makes most sense to me is: “If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving is definitely not for you”. I guess as a self-protective ploy, there is also value in the concept: “If at first you don’t succeed, destroy the evidence that you tried”.


I get it. I really do. I can’t argue with the fact that: “Practice makes perfect”, but that is not universally true. Sometimes it is simply an issue of “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to get the same results.


So, under the auspices of total transparency, let me tell you the truth about my truck. Perhaps what I have to share is more about the owner than the truck. First you need to know that I flawlessly get the oil changed every three thousand miles. That falls outside the manufacturer’s recommendation of every six months or less.


Recently, I was shocked to get in my truck and discover that the yellow low fuel light indicator came on when I started my truck. What was all of that about? Out of interest, I immediately changed the view on the information panel to see how far I could go before I was out of fuel. Do you believe this? It indicated that I could go one mile. How could that be? I hadn’t noticed the low fuel light on before.


Trust me, there isn’t a place to get fuel within a mile of my house. Okay, why not use the gasoline for the lawn mower. I lucked out, there was almost 2 gallons in the container. This was my lucky day.


Did I mention my truck has a cap-free opening for the fuel. However, I discovered you couldn’t just introduce the plastic nozzle from the gasoline can. Okay, so I poured the contents out slowly. Some spilled on the outside of the truck. It wasn’t until the gasoline container was mostly empty that I noticed a lot of gasoline had apparently spilled out without my knowing. How it got to the ground without spilling over on the outside of the truck is unknown.  It is ten miles to town. Surely enough gasoline had gotten into the tank to get me that far? I checked the projected distance I could travel again after pouring in the gasoline and it was still one mile. How could that be? That couldn’t be right.


Okay, so I chose not to try it. Instead, I Googled U-Tube and discovered FORD includes a device that must be inserted in the fuel opening before you can pour gasoline in the tank from something other than a gasoline nozzle at the pump. It was good to know. I wish I had made that discovery before I emptied two gallons of gasoline on the ground.


Long story short, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you always get the same results” unless of course, “Practice really can make perfect.”


All My Best!