You Always Get Another Shot…Maybe Just at Something Different This Time
Decisions, decisions, decisions….we hate em, and we need to make em all day, everyday. Fact of the matter, it’s a bit of a feedback loop in and of itself as a decision needs to be made on whether or not to make a decision on something, or keep the status quo..which ITSELF is a decision being made. You get the idea.
We all like to think we make ok, if not pretty good, decisions. They light the path of life we’ve taken thus far to get where we are standing at this moment. Good or bad, they make up our life. Sure, there may be a really terrible one or two scattered around back there, but for the most part we’ve built our story to read mostly good. And that’s a good thing. That means you’re pretty happy where you are in life right now.
As life goes on, and we go through more and more situations where more important decisions are to be made, and we successfully make them, we get better equipped at reading what’s needed to be taken into account when deciding. A basketball player, for instance, relies on quick decision making with very little time to reflect on how it all went and what he could have done differently, when Boom, he’s in the middle of yet another pretty big decision at the other end of the court. The basketball player rides the line back and forth between two different perspectives…offence and defence, and needs to make adjustments accordingly.
An archer, on the other hand, spends his time and mindspace in a totally different realm than the basketball player. Time is a luxury on his side. He can ready and prepare at will for his next attempt, wait for a beneficial wind condition, and even pause and reset if perhaps a blackfly should land on his nose. If an archer was to shoot an arrow at a target from an amazingly far distance…like world rector distance, and if this archer was an average student of the craft, at best…we would expect him to not even come close to hitting the mark. However, we could also assume that the arrow would have at least travelled toward the target to some degree. He’s more than likely not farther away now. Sensible enough stuff.
Now the fun part and how it relates to your life. This archer isn’t in a bullseye competition with others. He just wants to hit the target. So, now he gets a second shot. This shot is to take place where the first shot landed. Again, for the second time, he’s not going to hit the target, but is definitely getting closer again. This gets repeated until the target is hit, let’s say after five shots. Each shot was in and of itself a new beginning. They all had their own perspectives, their own vantage points…he could see the target not only from a closer position but usually a slightly different angle as well. Also, the area that was behind the target and hidden from view on the previous attempt is now in plain sight. This small fact gives rise to the possibility that something has now come into view from behind the target, say after the fourth shot attempt, that is more enticing, that holds more value to our marksman. At this point decisions need to be made. Decisions based on all the relevant information, including the newest information gained on the last four shots.
Again, pretty simple stuff when taken at face value. But in the grand scheme of things, this is your life laid out in front of you. One long series of consecutive shot attempts at whichever goals or targets you may have had along the way. If you think back, you’re bound to find little nuggets of wisdom and truths you’ve picked up over the years that you hold dear and true to your collection of personal values. Through these, a lot of times, you may have altered your target you once had to something that had more value to your newfound truth. Noticing that these have occurred in the past is the first step to improving.
The second step is to use this “archer’s perspective” to help guide you from here on out. Reflecting on the past can show where things went good and not so good along the way, but the true value is what you do going forward from now. As Alan Watts once said, “It’s not the wake that drives the boat.” The wake is what’s left behind. Using this perspective as part of the wind in the sails of the boat, or fuel in the tank to make forward progress is what it’s all about. So just how do you use this to your advantage? The biggest takeaway from all of this you can grab is this: there are no failures. In every failed attempt, for each shot that didn’t hit the mark, there can always be these new nuggets of wisdom and truths that can now become part of your arsenal to put to use for future, similar decisions. You’ll either be a bit closer to the target, or maybe better still, you may have seen something about a totally new target that’s now better taking a shot at than the one previous. When things look bleak and things don’t seem to be going your way right now, remember the Taoist parable of the farmer…
There was once a farmer in ancient China who owned a horse. “You are so lucky!” his neighbours told him, “to have a horse to pull the cart for you.” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.One day he didn’t latch the gate properly and the horse ran off. “Oh no! This is terrible news!” his neighbours cried. “Such terrible misfortune!” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
A few days later the horse returned, bringing with it six wild horses. “How fantastic! You are so lucky,” his neighbours told him. “Now you are rich!” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.The following week the farmer’s son was breaking-in one of the wild horses when it kicked out and broke his leg. “Oh no!” the neighbours cried, “such bad luck, all over again!” “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next day soldiers came and took away all the young men to fight in the war. The farmer’s son was left behind. “You are so lucky!” his neighbours cried. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.