The Infinite Practice

Education discovers an increasing richness in the past, because it sees what is unfinished there. Training regards the past as finished and the future as to be finished. Education leads toward a continuing self-discovery; training leads toward a final self-definition.

– James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games

imageThere are times when I feel a bit like a dog sitting at the foot of the Tree of Enlightenment, with all kinds of Personal-Development Squirrels flitting around the branches. “Ooh! Scarcity! Wait! Game theory! 7 Jars – I gotta have 7 Jars! Oh, wow! Konmari is cool!” It may even seem that way when I write and change the subject from post to post. One way to look at it is to think that I’m sort of like blogging tofu; I take the flavor of whatever teacher or lesson I’m currently marinating in. It’s not the most flattering idea – it implies a kind of superficiality, a shallowness and unwillingness to delve deeper into subjects (though I have taken requests from patrons for certain subjects).

There’s another way to look at it, though.

There is No Practice

I hate the term “grown up”, but not for the reasons that some might think (I once had a girlfriend give me a picture of Peter Pan because she thought it an apt role model). I think of it this way: if you fill up a glass, you can’t fill it any more. If you use up a Kleenex, you can’t use it any more. So if you grow up…you see where I’m going?

Instead I like the idea of being an adult. Of never stopping the process of growth, and allowing the new things that I learn change my understanding of my past and the directions the future may take. To me, being an adult is all the playfulness of being a child combined with an understanding of consequences and personal responsibility – which allows you to not only make choices, but to make informed choices.

All of the self-help and personal development theory is simply trying on new sets of lens through which to look at life. None of it is life itself; it’s just ways that make life better (or worse) by your own choice. As Bernard Suits puts it, “…playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” This may be for a finite goal – I want to win – or an infinite goal – I want to be better. Every lifehack I try, every new book or theory or discussion I explore, it’s not because I’m trying to find the solution – it’s part of enjoying the process.

Which is why the particular part of this blog labeled “Practice” might be a bit of a misdirection. Because you can’t really “practice” life, at least not in the way you practice football or rehearse dances or study for tests. There is no “life practice” in the sense of “getting ready for the real thing”. You’re already in it; you’re already playing. As T. Harv Eker (and others) have put it: “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

So…how you doin’?

1 thought on “The Infinite Practice”

  1. I would look at practice in terms of acting out. ? Like a career (e.g. medical or legal practice) rather than getting ready for a game.
    You make very good points about always learning and growing, though. Sounds similar to my own mantra.

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