One unhappy yet universal trait of our race is that human beings are fallible. The Christian accepts this as axiomatic to his worldview; only God is perfect and man even in his pre-Fall state was not. After the introduction of sin we have become only more prone to err. While the non-Christian does not accept those reasons for man’s fallibility he must nevertheless acknowledge this same imperfection, and particularly his own propensity to error. For the one who dares to put his thoughts in writing and submit them to the public, the likelihood of error and of the need to offer correction or retraction increases the more one writes.
This post is the 94th here at The Reforming Trombonist, and I am to some degree relieved that I see the need to offer only two retractions, both of articles which, upon further reflection, were misguided and unhelpful. The first is of a post dated September 20, 2013, entitled “On Multitasking While Practicing (Or, How to Spend Hours on Fundamentals without Getting Bored).” In this article I reiterated my frequent admonition to spend a large percentage of one’s practice time on playing fundamentals (which I am not retracting!), and suggested that the potential for boredom when spending hours on repetitive exercises could be ameliorated by reading books, magazines, or online articles while playing these exercises. Since I never seem to have enough time to practice as much as I would like or to read as much as I like, I have tried at various times to make more time for both by reading while playing these exercises. While I offered caveats by referencing potential dangers of practicing in this way, upon further reflection and practice I have decided that the possibilities of imperfect practice and even of pain and injury are too great to continue practicing in this way or suggesting that others do so. Besides, I never seemed to remember much of what I read when practicing.
Speaking of reading, the second retraction is of an article dated June 14, 2013, entitled “Websites I Check Regularly.” In this case my problem is not so much with any of the websites I listed, but with the tremendous time commitment needed to refer to them on a regular basis. In the past couple of years I have greatly reduced the amount of time I spend reading online articles (in part because I’m no longer reading while practicing!). Much of the news and commentary I once sought in online articles can now be found in podcasts, which are convenient because they can be listened to while driving, exercising, doing housework, etc., all more appropriate forms of multitasking than reading while practicing. (Note to self: an article about podcasts might be a useful future blog post.) Additionally, because most of the authors and sites I listed have social media presences, the more important articles on each usually find their way into my news feed on Facebook while the less necessary ones do not. Most of all, I have found that most of the online reading I once found so necessary is hardly missed, and the time is much better spent doing other things.
While I’m sure that these aren’t the only retractions I’ll want to offer during my career as a writer/blogger, this is all I have for now. At least I’m in good company—Augustine of Hippo (354-430), one of the greatest theologians the church has produced, published a volume of Retractions (sometimes translated Revisions) not long before his death. If a man as brilliant as Augustine found it necessary to correct himself, how could I expect not to? Maybe I should reread my old posts and make sure that there really are only two articles that should be withdrawn!