Where I Feel Most Alive

Despite how I have historically equated the process of learning new things with making a fool of myself, I realize that I am now at a point in my life where the time I spend acquiring a new skill is when I feel the most alive. Strangely enough, I’ve always been really patient with myself when the learning is mental. Physical activities are a different story.

I don’t know when I made the mental leap to adopt a love of learning for learning’s sake, but I’m so glad I have. I’ve had a complete change in the mental dialogue that goes on in my head. Now in the early phases of learning, when things go horribly wrong (as they do), my internal response is, “Hmmmmmm…. that was unexpected.”

A couple months ago I took my first archery class. I saw it on Meetup.com and thought it would be fun. Having seen Hunger Games (and never having picked up a bow before in my life), I went into the class wanting to focus on grouping shots.

During my first time up at the target, all three arrows missed the target completely.

Empty Target

I reassessed and made new goal: Hit the target.

Guess what I did the next time up. I hit the target!!!!!  I would not have been nearly as excited about making contact with a black ring if I’d done it my first go round.

When it was time for my next go round, I decided to try to control where it went. Not so much. It is harder than it looks! Okay, back to hitting the target … anywhere.

Tammy on the Archery Range

Seeing this picture of me taken during my first class reminded me of watching videos of myself dancing. In looking at it, I immediately see everything I was doing wrong. Wonderfully, my mind did not diminish the picture in my eyes, instead it spun it to show how much I’d learned so that I could see what I was doing wrong.

I’m currently taking an archery course, which ends this week. I have gotten much better, meaning I don’t consider myself to be a danger to myself or others. Shortly I will be buying a bow so I can go practice whenever I want on my own. Right now, what is really needed for me to improve is the work of firing arrow after arrow. Since leaving dance, I’ve really missed have a physical activity that requires precision. Now I have it!

Once I started getting into archery, I was surprised at the number of people who were exposed to it in elementary school or junior high. How did I miss out on that?!?!?! Then again, giving kids potentially deadly weapons seems a bit scary to me. Can you tell I’m a non-mom?

Have you ever tried archery? Did you have it in school? Or What new activity have you tried lately?

4 thoughts on “Where I Feel Most Alive”

  1. Yay! Good for you, Tammy. Remind me to watch out for you should Hunger Games ever become a reality.

    I haven’t tried archery – ever – except with darts on a dart board and I suppose that’s not even close. But there is a round target and a bulls eye involved.

    New skill? I’ve been working on cycling. I’ve ridden a bike most of my life – but I’m pumping it up and turning it up a few notches – longer rides, more revolutions per minute, etc. – it’s a great sport to do and keep up with through the years.

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    1. I’m horrible at darts! I definitely see the similarities, though. Something about having the bow helps me settle my mind and focus on where I want the arrow to go. Didn’t that sentence make it sound like I can actually aim? (Pats self on back)

      Cycling in Colorado must be so beautiful, though not a year-round outdoor sport! For me, I always felt more tired riding a bike than walking the same distance, so it sort of defeated the point. I know, another weird Tammy-ism!

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  2. No. I hear you on that, Tammy. I was the same way. Couldn’t figure out why I could walk for an hour but riding my bike for 15 minutes made me aerobically exhausted. Why could I ski down a mountain very fast all day and not be exhausted, but my husband, who is in much better aerobic shape – have leg spasms and be too tired after 2 runs…? It’s just, I’ve decided, that different sports use different large muscles and wear us out differently.

    So the bike riding has taken a lot of training. And I’m only up to about an hour and a half of steady peddling now before I’m ready to crap out. I have a ways to go. I flew to Germany once a few years ago and sat next to a man who was in his late 60s and he said he and his wife had been working with a trainer for several months to get them in shape for a 7 day bike ride across lower Switzerland with a group. I was inspired by him. And I was only in my late forties then. tick, tick, tick

    My daughter loves archery too. And she’s in Alaska now where a couple of her male friends hunt with cross bows – so she may just have some “dudes” to practice with. Although, like I told her, I could never see her releasing the bow into the wide eyed doe who may look at her. She agreed.

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    1. Thank you for your reassurance that I’m not a freak of nature, or at least that this doesn’t prove it!

      I don’t think I could shoot bambi. If I were really hungry, yes, but it would be hard. Actually it would give me a greater respect for the life of the animal that gave its life for my meal. I don’t know if I’m ready for that reality yet.

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