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On Practice Preciousness

The Gift of Practice Preciousness

The gift of practice preciousness

A chance to practice recklessness

To trimply spry

To simply fail

Or maybe to succeed.

To love this next


Risk harm and find reward

To know that all will be just fine

Not one attempt untoward.

The gift of practice preciousness

Is chance to then proceed

Knowing practice preciousness

Is all you’ll ever need.


The story behind the poem:

I was working on my $40 Goodwill guitar tonight and managed to fix the nut (the top bit with the string slots, right under the tuning parts). The corner of the high E string slot had cracked off. I got it playing again with a combination of super glue, baking soda, and nail files of varying sizes. Turns out baking soda and glue react to form a very strong and obviously adhesive hard plastic, and my big emery boards worked nicely for filing the blob of glue-plastic down to the level of the rest of the plastic. Then, the little mini metal file that came with a manicure kit I got ages ago worked to cut in a slot for the string. Am I slightly worried that I will have messed up the high e string with imprecise filing? Sure. But I also know that it will be fine in the end. I can always buy new strings. The key thing, right now, is that I can play again.

I hadn't picked up a guitar since I took a brief span of lessons in 4th grade. The memory of steel strings cutting into my fingertips kept me away until I found Stella in a Goodwill in Burlington on a "specials" table. At first I thought it was completely frivolous and crazy to impulse purchase a guitar. Would I even play it? But she just... sang to me? Strange to say. It was some odd, intuitive, God-wink thing that just was like—this guitar is for you.

I've now been playing guitar every other day or so, usually for a few minutes before bed. Yousician is a really helpful app--it's like guitar hero, but educational, and with an actual guitar as the controller (not sponsored, but I really like it). Stella has some dings in her varnish, but if Willie Nelson can play Trigger (his guitar) with an "extra" sound hole he dug through it with his nails over years of playing, I can play a guitar with a few scratches. Stella's a sturdy thing who says, "There's no need to be too precious with me. I am tough, I can make it. Do your best."

I never would have felt like I could try this repair on a fancy new guitar. Stella's “practice preciousness” allowed me care for her, but not so much that I was preoccupied with a fear of messing up. It felt good to have learned enough from watching YouTube videos to actually fix the break myself, without paying extra for fancy tools or parts.

I really enjoy Marie Kondo's perspectives on objects. She acknowledges that we are in relationship with everything we own. And I think this relationship I have with my guitar might set up some sort of extended metaphor--maybe it's that when we treat things as overly precious, we don't end up fixing things that need to be fixed? Not certain. But it's late. So you get to make up your own adventure.

I hope you like the poem. Are there any relationships or objects that you own that are splendidly practice-precious? Any lessons you've learned from working with them?

With care,


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