TIME'S ARROW

Be the arrow, not the archer.

Be the arrow, not the archer.

 

 

Hit the target or miss the target, the arrow's gone from the bow. What we dream of doing with our precious dart only has limited time to get done. Tomorrow always comes with The Sun and night will follow after the day is done. The eternal question for someone whose creative engines automatically churn are whether that day will be spent just marking time’s passage, or if there will be some intention during the day that sends the arrow home.

I find this question fraught with philosophical dilemma almost as much as its practical realities torment me. Philosophically I chafe at the thought that a person’s life might only be valuable based on measurements of accomplishment. I don’t buy that premise. In many cases accomplishments can be like material acquisitions, just ways of keeping score in some irrelevant game. For example, the clarity of mind to fully love someone else has little to do with accomplishment. The appreciation of music or poetry or freshly cut grass in the city park has little to do with accomplishment, either. 

Nonetheless, there are creative goals that matter, and you’re reading this blog because there IS ONE (or more) in particular that you want to accomplish. It’s waiting for you, downrange, asking for your bow. It’s a target of narrowing, concentric circles, goading you to plant your feet, line up your shot, pull the string, let fly.

All of the many clocks surrounding us that count the passage of hours mean nothing in terms of actual time. Our clocks are just accounting tools and our calendars little more than slow-motion clocks.  Play a piece of music too quickly for it to convey the proper mood and the music is dull.  Played too fast it becomes tedious and time actually drags for the listener! The hours on a clocks are just lines in a ledgers; they’re just ways to keep our days organized.  

Real time is about that arrow, heading to the target. If you have something to say, the ability to get it said will always be a challenge because your own private reserve of time is not infinite. For all of the many reasons why it's hard to accomplish anything substantial, the hardest is declaring boundaries around a portion of your finite time and applying constructive labor, resources, and mental focus so that your effort accumulates structure and meaning. 

This is an ancient process. It’s easier for some than others for many reasons, of course, but it’s the only way that people actually manage to carve stone knives, paint on cave walls, write books, make films, or perfect recipes for raspberry cheesecakes. Most people do not do these things, but for those who do, accomplishment is all about setting a target, declaring boundaries around the time, holding off the marauding forces that threaten to take that time away, and doing it. 

 Time moves forward whether you care or not, whether you accomplish anything or not, whether you're sick or distracted or tired or even empty. Time moves forward and we are swept along like debris on the river. Fight  that river and you might manage to adjust your position in the water for a while, but ultimately that water will carry you downstream.

That’s why I have a suggestion for the remainder of 2015, assuming you have some sort of creative aspiration. Instead of being the archer trying to hit the target, be the arrow. When the moment comes to leave the string, you will not be anything more than movement through space. During flight, exist simply to move. By moving--without external distraction-- you  become the agent of travel toward a target. When you reach it, you will be the accumulation of your travels coalesced into a point. Until you convince the bow to let you leave, you’re going nowhere.  

Then, when you reach your target, you’ll know how you flew. 

@michaelstarobin

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