The Perch

Archery on posts

Some challenges resonate strongly within us. Sometimes for reasons even we do not know. It is simply part of our baggage we carry on this crazy train we call life. Sunday, at Archery class during summer camp, we were given a challenge to stand on a short pole or a tall pole and shoot as many arrows as possible without falling off…but only allowed to stand on one foot. Typically, people could stand 30-120 seconds, and the best record so far was only 3 arrows. When my time came, I was happy to play the game, as I have great balance. Everyone else had chosen the low perch, screw that, I went high out of pride and arrogance. Once I got up on the high perch, I’m really not sure what happened, it is like I blacked out in a way. I kicked in my Zen and hyper focused. Time dilated, and I had no sense of its passage. My eyes locked on a 2″ square of tree bark and my muscle memory took over, while my brain balanced. I remember my leg beginning to hurt and kicking in my old pain management mindset from 30 years ago. I was planted, that was my pole, I wasn’t leaving. I drew and shot, drew and shot, never looking down, never checking my nock, calling out which target I would hit next. I remember the instructor harassing me, but I was so tuned out and it didn’t get to me. I remember him sticking my arrows in the ground to my right to force me to contort down to the ground to get my next arrow, but I was in Zen and simply retrieved them pluck and grace. I wore that perch as the master and commander. My leg burned but I Zen-ed thru the pain and the searing, I was *not* going to falter, I was *not* going to fall. Apparently, I began to softly talk to myself. Someone thought I was quoting Lord of the Rings. I gave it my all. At some point the instructor refused to give me more arrows. I realized, I wasn’t going to fall off but if I didn’t get down I would collapse off. I voluntarily conceded my perch, and stepped down to Terra firma again. I ceremoniously bowed to the instructor, limped 15 feet away and collapsed down cross-legged. I began to shake and to cry from the intense emotional experience. I’m not sure why, but I believe it was me challenging me, and in the end I was weighed, measured, and found passing. My mettle is known. I was told I’d been on the post 9 minutes, shot 11 arrows, struck the target 10 times. To me, I had done something beautiful and bad-ass, and this time, there were witnesses.


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