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ARCHERY, the book that started all that Zen stuff for most Western young people…in fact, we all had to read
ZEN AND THE ART OF ARCHERY as freshman theatre acting students at Northwestern… planted within us the notion that the work we were about to embark on had mystical significance and took less effort than we understood in getting an audience to come to you, rather than you making the excessive effort to reach out to push your self on them…inviting good, forcing bad.

Now, as i think of it, it might be time to read that book again….the older i get, the more i realize life is about the magnetic attraction of those people and things that occur without a person even really having to try that hard….in other words, life is not as difficult as we agonize through much of our youth thinking it is: Life might actually be just a bowl of cherries after all! Pits and all.

But the thing that captures me?
I know very little about the the actual art of bow and arrow target shooting….I’ve tried it a couple of times and found it impossible to get right…but i was left with a true appreciation of the skills one must develop to hold two things in balance: the tension of getting the strength and aim lined up on the one hand, and the effortless allowing of letting go of the string to permit the arrow to actually fly through the air….tension on one hand, utter permission and relaxation on the other….both working together to make the event occur.

As i age, i understand that is what is asked of us: to hold in balance the pain and the pleasure of life…understanding that life is neither totally one or the other. Life is both pain and pleasure , excitement and dismay, elation and terror, both often happening at the same time, or at least very close together. Disappointing (and exhilarating) as it is) you can’t haven without the other. Damn.

But one sure thing?
The path of the arrow is true, resonant and sharply pleasing when the aim is gently yet accurately executed.

Trust in the skills that brought us to the shooting range in the first place.
Work on strengthening both arms: one for pulling back the bow, the other for releasing into the world the pure intention of hitting whatever central bullseye is wished for….
I wonder what they call it a BULLSEYE…don’t you wonder that too?
What did the poor bull ever do to deserve being struck in the eye?
Or maybe, rather than being wounded, its actually more of an honor to be realized and achieved.
A consummation devoutly to be wished…..
The bull sacrifices its sight for that honor, that rare and difficult action.
We are all brave archers.

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