Did you ever feel like you missed the mark? That somehow the best laid plans never seemed to go as expected? I’ve always loved that Bugs Bunny cartoon when he pops up in the middle of some desert, looks around himself and then states that he must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque. I can understand the feeling. There are many times when the thing I thought I was supposed to be doing just wasn’t happening. At least not in the way I had planned. In those times I felt very out of step with myself. What exactly went wrong?
There’s an old adage, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. There have been so many times in my life when I am certain I am reading the signs that tell me which direction I should be following only to run into a wall. And then need to change direction again. I sometimes feel like a mouse in a maze searching for the pot of gold.
Musing on this has brought up a memory of when my kids were young and we went to a local pumpkin patch during Halloween to find pumpkins and go on a hay ride. The patch also had an elaborate corn maze we decided to explore. Once we entered the maze I felt
disoriented despite the brilliantly sunny day and the little arrows marking the path. The corn stalks were very high and it was stuffy. We kept going into what felt like circles because we kept passing the same signposts. For my son this was exciting and he was up for the challenge of learning the secrets of the maze and defeating it by finding our way out. However after about 30 minutes in the maze my daughter started to get anxious and I started to get hot and claustrophobic. We ended up crawling under the hedge to get to the outside only to find that we were mere feet from the exit of the maze. My son was so angry that we didn’t finish and let the maze beat us. But life is like that. Sometimes you are ready to tackle it head on and other times you just need to find a way out of the situation.
I am one that never likes to make a mistake although to do so is to be truly human. I just feel out of step when my arrow misses the mark. I’ve always loved archery, that precise deadly art. You could say I channel my inner Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games, but I found archery long before she was ever written into this generation’s lexicon. It was at summer camp when I was 12 years old that I discovered the magic of a bow and arrow. It was one of the camp sports and I loved it immediately. And I like to think I was pretty good at it. Just pulling back that bow, taut in the seconds before letting that arrow fly, was full of joy and anticipation. It became about the journey and not the destination. In the decades that followed my month at summer camp, I have pulled that bow taut over and over again, aiming at so many different targets. Which arrow would hit the mark? Which one would stick? Many times my arrow broke on impact. Those were the hardest times of all.
Missteps are a strange dance. They set me off balance and fill me with doubt. The fact is there is no straight line through the maze. Or a precise shot from an arrow unless you are Katniss Everdeen. We just have to figure our way through. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world these days. The sand feels like it is constantly shifting and it can be hard to get a hold of something solid and true. Life is a current and it’s easy to feel buffeted from shore to shore at times. But as David Bowie always reminded us, time might change us but really we can’t change time. We just have to follow the trajectory of the arrow we let fly no matter how off the mark it might land.
Despite all of that, what I have learned is that there is actually beauty in the uncertainty. There is promise in something unexpected. And sometimes the change of the trajectory is a good thing. A real thing. A blessing, in fact, that my arrow did not meet it’s intended mark. And suddenly, it’s not angst but gratitude. So for now, I will draw my bow back toward the next horizon I want to go towards. And let that arrow fly.