As I was cleaning up my study this weekend, I came across journals I had kept when I was in college many years ago. Browsing through them, I happened upon this quote I’d written down back then as I was listening to Anthony de Mello quoting Chuang Tsu:
When an archer is shooting for nothing, 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.
This speaks to me as much now, as it did back then.
When I get stressed out about how I am going to be judged, I lose power.
When I worry about what other people think of me, I lose clarity and confidence.
When I need to “perform” for someone else’s approval, I’m off my game.
For me, “the need to win drains him of power” speaks to the way in which my attachments, demands, and expectations keep me from being fully present in the goodness of a moment, or a relationship.
There is so much joy available to me when I’m willing to relate to myself and others as we are, when I drop my agenda to change and improve everything and instead practice becoming present to things as they are.
These moments of deep self-acceptance and self-connection bring a different kind of wisdom to me, grounded in the power of presence.
In these places, I find an attunement to my needs, to what “fits” and what “doesn’t fit” for me, more clarity about what I am moving toward and away from, more trust in my decisions and choices regarding what I want to remain available to, and what I want to disconnect from.
As you go into your week, consider:
- What is draining you of power? Where are you feeling internally divided?
- Bring to mind a moment when you’ve done something for the sheer pleasure and enjoyment of it.
- When was the last time were you so deeply immersed in play that you didn’t even notice time flowing anymore?
- What might support you in cultivating more moments of deep presence like that in your life?
Feel free to share what comes to mind in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.