Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Shoot Your Arrows

Arrows are amazing things.
Such a small, narrow thing, yet it flies far and can have great effect at its point of impact. A good arrow is well balanced, with a sharp head, and with true fletching to keep it directed toward the intended target.

A bow hunter (those who most commonly use arrows nowadays), make sure the arrowhead is sharp, sharp enough to shave with. Sharp enough to pierce the tough hide of the creatures they hunt. They may practice with the bow, but once they know the bow and where it shoots, they turn their attention to the arrows.

In days gone by, before there were sports shops for the bow hunter, an archer made his own arrows. He found the straightest materials for the shaft, not too stiff, but not too springy either. He forged his own arrowheads if he had the metal, or knapped his own from flint or obsidian if he did not. He found the best feathers, often selecting eagle tail feathers, if he could get them.

He would test them, to see if the results of his efforts had given him what he sought. If so, he would repeat the design.

If not, the arrow was broken. Or, if not too off-the-mark, used in practice sessions where accuracy was not the focus, but rather the training of the muscles and eye to the effort required in the bending of the bow and the releasing of the string

And, taking just pride in the result of his labors, he would often mark them in such a way as to be identifiable as his. His brand, if you will.

Then they would be placed in his quiver for the time of the hunt, or of battle.

Because that is the whole point: to shoot the arrow.

The Bible tells us that a man's children are like arrows in the quiver of a mighty man. And we ought not to keep our arrows in the quiver; indeed, we cannot. They will launch themselves willy-nilly regardless if we do not direct them. Even so, they are self-guided missiles.

This does not mean we can make of them what we want, if it is against their natural leanings. As a wise parent we need to be aware of our children's inclinations, and direct them along likely paths, and not try to make them into something they cannot be, nor do something at which they cannot be successful.

And we parents have done exactly the latter far too often. But I digress.

Those of us who write have other children: our stories. We work on them, lavish our most sincere efforts on them, and then we send them out ...

... Unless we are afraid of rejection letters.

The purpose of an arrow is to shoot it. Whether it strikes it mark, or it is lost, it must be shot. It does no good to make the perfect arrow then leave it in the quiver.

This bears repeating:

Once the arrow is crafted it must be shot.

Once a story is written, it must be sent, often many, many times, into the world to be published.

Otherwise, it is as prettily useless as the arrow in the quiver that is ‘too nice to shoot’.

Shoot your arrows.

Yes, you can.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

We The Living

(from an earlier post began may 21st, 2010, completed march 2nd, 2012)

Is this a field of dreams? We all have loved ones who died. What dreams sleep with them, that they would have wanted to see completed?

The worst place to start writing is from the position of not knowing what to say to them.

My father lies beneath a modest marker of marble with the shield of a veteran with a dark patina of age upon it, indicating his status as one who fought for this country's freedoms. My stepfather now rests in a similar state, having passed away rather more recently. Both men gave their best to this nation in its day of desperate need some sixty years ago. But what do the deeds of the past have to do with today?

I mentioned in passing to the grocery checker, as I was dating a check Dec. 7th, 20__, that this was an important day in history. I got an 'Oh?' by way of a reply. I elaborated that Pearl Harbor was bombed and got the reply: 'Oh, well I wasn't born then.'

That startled me. I suppose it should not have, but it did, nonetheless. Nonplussed, I said that neither was I, but we should know about them.

I have stood beside the graves of my father and my stepfather, each of whom fought in that mighty conflict, one in Europe and the other in the Pacific. Each stood in harm's way to repel and conquer those who would remove our freedoms from us.

It is interesting to note, historically, that both Germany (West Germany, before the wall fell) and Japan both became economic forces to be reckoned with, in part because we extended the hand of forgiveness that Lincoln taught us to use: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with power to do what is right, as God gives us the ability to see the right..." We helped bind the wounds of our enemies, having seen what the consequences of not doing so can bring; Hitler's rise to power might still have happened had not Germany been in such economic turmoil after the first world war, but he would have had a harder time of it.

So, what do we the living do now? Do we ignore what has gone before? Or do we do our best to learn from the mistakes and successes of the past?

The future holds a much different pattern than we have seen in the past. Some people say, and not without merit, that whatever the past can teach us, it has little to do with the current present, and the future, both near and far.

Yet, whatever our global connectedness brings, people are still people. Singly, and in aggregate, people have their own self-interests and desires; it is ever thus.

I haven't written much in this blog of late, mostly I haven't thought I've had that much of importance to say. I still don't. But the lighting flashes now and again, and I try, in the brief shining moment, to write down what I see. This moment's flash: learn of the past, the triumphs and tragedies, the loves and relationships. Learn from the past, throwing out the dross and gathering the gold an silver, not to mention the occasional pearl of wisdom.

Interesting; why is the pearl, of all gemstones, chosen to represent wisdom? I believe it is because that it is one of the few gems that have an organic origin (being made by shellfish) and one that takes time to create.

And, perhaps most importantly, it is what the oyster does in response to something that causes it pain.

It's the oyster's way of making lemonade from the lemons in its life.

What is in the long past that you can learn from? What is in your immediate past? What can you make lemonade with? What can you make a pearl with? Of what can you be proud?

I am proud of my ancestors who wore the uniform of this nation, who fought and won through.

Remember those who gave their best. Remember especially those who gave their all.

Yes, you can!