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The Archer’s Need to Win

To just be in the moment and be present to what one is doing takes us beyond the need to win and not lose. In the last line of this poem, Chuang Tzu reminds us that the need to win or not to lose drains the archer of his power.

Several years ago, we visited our son and his family. At the time, our grandson was about 5 months old. We went for dinner our last evening and, after I finished eating, I took him. I was in front of a mirrored wall. When he noticed there was a little boy in the mirror, our grandson played with that little boy for about 5-10 minutes, until he became tired. He had no other goal than to play and just be in that moment.

We lose that childlike way and those purely phenomenological moments of just being in the world. Remembering is being mindful and calling something to mind. When we do so, Parker Palmer wrote that to re-member is to make and keep one’s self whole.

When an archer is shooting for fun
He has all his skill.

If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous.

If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind

Or sees two targets –
He is out of his mind.

His skill has not changed,
But the prize divides him.

He cares
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting –
And the need to win
Drains him of power.

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About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and spent the last 14 years teaching in an incrediable hybrid school setting. My dissertation topic and research were how teachers experience becoming who teachers, as human subjects. For me, teaching is a calling and vocation that allows me to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what will call me. We have begun a small consulting and leadership firm called Rocky River Leadership & Consulting Ltd.

13 responses »

  1. “The Archer’s Tale”, Bernard Cornwell, shows the experienced archer is not deterred. Every target is just a target and an archer is as good as his confidence forged in experience.

    Reply
  2. Good one! Thahks. I liked the analogy.

    Reply
  3. Ivon, hi there. I’ve been wanting to thank you for taking the time to wander through the deep recesses of my blog…I wish I could be so brave! One day I will revisit my past selves…I wonder why it’s difficult to read my own work? Anyway, thanks again! I’ve always enjoyed your writing. Take care,
    elisa

    Reply
    • Thank you Elisa. I think there is a certain humility in reading one’s work. I was reading Mary Oliver yesterday and that shines through in her writing. I enjoy the photographs and stories behind them on your blog.

      Reply
  4. Oh, yes. True for so many things.

    Reply
  5. I love Chuang Tzu; if i weren’t myself dreaming I were a butterfly….
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece about remaining whole and undivided, having fun.

    Reply

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