This summer as a counselor, I got to do something I had never done before. I got to try my hand at archery. I wasn't sure I wanted to even try because I knew it was hard. I knew it required both physical strength as well as serious concentration. I wasn't sure I had either. However, thanks to a little encouragement, I decided to give it a shot. I picked up the bow, loaded my arrow, and began to pull back on the string. When I got it as far back as I could, I had a brief moment where I froze. What now? I remembered what the instructor said, but wasn't sure about it. Let go, really?
I'm used to sports like baseball or basketball where you have to follow through. You can't stop when the ball leaves your hand, you have to follow through. If you try to stop short you can get hurt. But in archery, you do the opposite. You have to simply let go of the string and let the arrow fly. It was a hard thing to do. In fact, I had to think harder about letting go than about pulling it back. The physical work was easier than the release.
But I did it. And it was amazing to watch how far and how fast it flew. I didn't hit the target, but watching it fly was probably even more rewarding. I imagine that if I were to continue archery, releasing might become like second nature, but just like everything else, it takes practice. Letting go isn't the type of thing we practice very often. But we should.
I noticed watching others (and could feel it in myself as well) that, in addition to the release and lack of follow through, there is no instant recovery. Maybe if you were a professional or in some sort of timed competition things would move a little faster. But even in watching "Top Shot" on the History Channel (no judgements please) when they were shooting with a bow, they all sort of stood there after they released, and they didn't drop their hand that had just released the string. If was only a few seconds, but the hand seemed to stayed frozen in that open position until the arrow had stopped flying. It was long enough that it could be seen. That release could be felt. That openness could be captured and remembered.
What kind of interference do we cause when we refuse to let go? How are we slowing things down? How are we shortening the journey or missing the mark? When we do release, how quickly do we try to recover? Do we relish the moment before moving on to the next? Are we able to feel it and stay in that moment for a while? Even if they were unable to witness the actual event, can others see evidence of our release? Do we maintain that posture of letting go?
I don't know the answers to these things. I think the answers vary based on the person and the situation. But I also don't think the answers are the important part. The important part is asking the questions, and perhaps the process of discovering what the answers might be.