Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Treasures in Clay Pigeons

The first half of my UK trip was pure joy. For the first time in my life I shot clay pigeons. It was more fun than a card carrying gun control advocate should ever admit to. For the first time in many years my whole family (minus one cousin) was in the one place at the same time. For the first time in donkey’s years family members were dancing on tables to 80s music, drinking flaming sambuca shots and laughing for no apparent reason.

The shooting instructor kept saying, “Don’t think about it. Just shoot.” He couldn’t have captured the weekend more perfectly. Stop over thinking and live now. As Alan Watts once said, “We usually don’t look. We overlook.” The instructor said, “See it and shoot. Don’t follow it. Shoot now.”

We were in England for the marriage of my brother to an English woman. Cupid’s arrow hit the mark with this match. My brother’s best man was a Kiwi. Every continent was represented as family and friends joined to celebrate love. Just in our family, there were people present from New York, Michigan, England, Hong Kong and Sydney. The setting was perfect. The mood was blissful. The spirit of Rapunzel was abundant, with hair being let down all over the place.

The healing power of fun and joy are tremendous. I was reading a great journal study on the correlation between children who attend “play free” preschools and later criminal activity. I had the page marked to include some statistics in this post, but then Meg dropped the whole journal in the bath. At first I was annoyed, but then I realized that was perfect too. The numbers aren’t essential (although it was something staggering like one third of children who attend “play free” preschools end up involved in crime compared to one tenth of kids who attend “play full” preschools). The point is that fun is essential. I’m sure there are other studies that show the correlation between play and productivity. If there aren’t, someone should prove that point for me. In the meantime, I will stick to my guns, so to speak.

The instructor was right. Every time I SAW the clay and shot, I hit it (with surprised euphoria). Every time I second guessed myself and waited, I missed. There were treasures beneath the shattered clay pigeons.

Paul describes life in 2 Corinthians 4 as being like “treasures in clay jars”. I’m not sure what he meant by that. Maybe it was a warning not to attach to particular identities or roles or experiences because they are like clay; here one minute and blown to smithereens the next. Beneath the clay exterior is the treasure, the unchanging essence. Maybe it’s a reminder to be humble and flexible. Fun is one way to practice humility and flexibility.

Now I head off on a two week tour of progressive and spiritual groups in England. It promises to be stimulating. We will discuss such weighty matters as the economic crisis, the declining interest in organized religion, and the nature of a post modern God. May a sense of fun constantly remind me that while my truths are partial, and my mind easily distracted, my instincts are often right.

In the midst of crisis, humility and flexibility are treasures. Fun reminds me that life is not as serious as I imagine, my theories are not as accurate as I suspect, and my personas are nowhere near as permanent as my ego would have me believe.

Clay pigeons around the world need fear not. When it comes to shooting, I’m as erratic as Dick Cheney. I’m still learning. I over think more than I realize. I over look more than I see. But then again, I did hit more than I expected. I want to experience in every day life the feeling I had when I hit the clay several times in a row; the sense of instinctive flow. I want the treasures beneath the clay pigeons; the humility and intuitive flexibility.

In the words of Leonard Cohen, “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."