Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Through the Looking Glass May 5, 2013

Many great minds have commented on the relationship between theory and practice. Words like abstract, speculation and conjecture are among the definitions of theory, whereas practice is typically thought of as a conscious effort to get better at something. Today I join the conversation as I contemplate the powerful relationship between practice and theory.I'm a Half Full Doggie

It is not unusual for my optimistic doggie mind to agree with great transcendentalist philosopher and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson and today is no exception to the rule. “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory,” Emerson once said. So which comes first, Mr. Emerson, the chicken or the egg? The action or the theory? The thought or the behavior?

To answer this puzzle I dip my toe into a casual chat about philosophy and end up in the deep end of psychology. I am a believer that we are what we think, in agreement with German philosopher Immanuel Kant. “Experience without theory is blind,” Kant suggested, “but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.”

Kant’s commentary brings to mind my mom’s journey with her sight. When she was a small girl, she was deemed legally blind with very little hope of the adult normalcy that sight has to offer. Thanks to what she refers to as her little miracle, she can now see almost perfectly with the help of prescription glasses.

Everything she sees is through those lenses. Those lenses are her looking glass to the world. This is how I see theory. Our theories are the lenses through which we view the world, providing our looking glass to all things. Our theories are the lenses filtering our perception of our surroundings. And just as mom carefully selected the lenses she wears each day, I dare say we choose the theory through which we opt to see the world on a daily basis.

It’s no secret to the world that I have carefully selected rose-colored glasses through which to view my world. My looking glasses are half full, and I’m proud to say they are. But today I gave some thought to these debates about theory and practice and I can’t say my life experiences enable me to agree with the popular opinion.

Experience lends itself to theory, but (in my doggie heart) the relationship between the two is give and take. “He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast,” said history’s most effective multi-tasker Leonardo da Vinci.

Indeed, it is not enough to see the world through a half-full pair of lenses. We need to practice what we preach. This is why I blog, why I share as much of my joy as I can with the world. “To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with,” said great American author and humorist Mark Twain. So which comes first, Mr. Twain, the chicken or the egg? The action or the theory? The thought or the behavior?

Who knows. What I know for sure is my thoughts influence my behavior on a daily basis. I live to see and share joy, from the ground up. “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived,” Emerson said, “This is to have succeeded.”


24 Responses to “Through the Looking Glass”

  1. shanesbookblog Says:

    Love this! You have a very distinguished mind, and you are an extremely talented writer!

    *You have a new Fan for Life!!!

    Love the Pup tw =x x- Adorable!

    • Thank you!!!! A friend and follower of mine told me a pretty powerful thought today: What if the things you didn’t show gratitude for today were not in your life tomorrow? So I say thank you for your words, your compliments, and for simply being a fan. Lots of love to you!

  2. finnhoward Says:

    Ah yes, Mr. Twain was a smart man. I really like that quote. Have a good night buddy!

  3. great writing and photo- hilarious twist

  4. You are so clever, Wiles. I love how you did this prompt. πŸ™‚

  5. You’re so smart, Wiley. It’s true that how you have touched people is what you leave behind when you’re gone. With your rose colored doggie glasses, You touch people with your acceptance of everyone just the way they are. Your Mom’s special lenses see everything with a new clarity. She may have poor sight, but she has great vision.

    Love and licks,

    • Dear Cupcake,

      As usual you are too kind, to both my mom and I. I shared your comment about vision with my mom and she was tickled pink! Talk about rose-colored glasses, boy she was wearing a smile today thanks to your special words. Thank you for that, and for being you.

      Lots of love,

  6. Great post – Thanks Wiley… I’m not sure if the theory or the action is first, I prefer “learning by doing” :o) Have a fabulous Monday, dear Wiley :o)

    • Hello friend! I did indeed have a great Monday, with lots of extra time in the sunshine thanks to the beautiful weather! I share your learning by doing philosophy….we take what we can from our mistakes, right? Lots of love to you and your family!

  7. Wisdom indeed. Loved this post!

  8. Really nice post.
    I have a soft spot for Twain’s wit.
    Have a nice week.

    • Scratchies and hugs to you and yours, dear friend. Thank you for your commentary….and yes, Mr. Twain and his wit are always welcome in these parts. πŸ™‚

  9. As usual Wiley, you lift my spirits and have me pondering thoughts. Great post.

    • Wow, that is mighty high praise! It means the world to me to bring some sunshine to life, so hearing that I may have succeeded brings me joy. πŸ™‚

  10. I love the picture of you and the computer. Happy writing πŸ™‚

  11. Lyn Says:

    Wiley, you would have to be the most photogenic and writerly-talented pup I have the pleasure of calling “friend”.

  12. Reblogged this on Wiley's Wisdom and commented:

    What practices do you think about? Do you bring them to life?

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