Today I had the privilege of teaching a day one new student in the ancient art of archery. Archery began basically at the start of mankind. In fact most of human history was shaped by archery with its importance only waining in recent history due to the advent of gun powder. It is in fact the oldest martial art still practiced today. In Japan it is known as "kyudo" which means the way of the bow. Kyudo is practiced for physical, moral and spiritual development.
Like any great discipline a skilled archer must be in the "zone". The zone is a moment, usually fleeting, where everything else in the outside world is turned off.... and the practitioner is 100% focused on the art. In this moment the body, mind and spirit must all come together in complete focus on the task at hand. The body must be completely relaxed and physically tense at the same time... the mind must be free of distractions and stressful thoughts yet totally engaged on the shot. It takes great discipline for most humans to be completely mentally engaged on any one task... It takes great discipline to quiet the mind... It takes great discipline to feel and engage every muscle in your body in unison towards the shot. The discipline required to be a good archer is the same discipline required to be a good human- Stay consistent, don't be freaking out, stay focused yet relaxed and know every muscle in your body... be in touch with your mind, body and soul mostly free of useless, idiotic, worldly distractions (ie. cable news, twitter, facebook, instagram etc).
And this is just to be a great "target" archer. To be an archery hunter is an entirely different level of skill, discipline and commitment. Primarily due to the added mental challenges taking a wary beast brings to the shot process. Freeing the mind of distractions to concentrate fully on the shot... when that shot is to take the life of an animal is the ultimate in mental discipline. Most modern humans have lost touch with this level of self discipline as we tend to get our beasts at the Chik-fila or Taco Bell drive thru. Modern food is easy and convenient but with it's streamlined, clean delivery we have lost an art central to who we are as a species... the art of the kill. Every single harvest I make of an animal using archery requires a special form of discipline, if even for a fleeting moment. In that moment every human emotion is screaming but my mind must be quiet, calm and relaxed. Omnipresent is the understanding that for me to live something else must die... the value placed on life in this moment is paramount to my very existence. The result is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to be alive, to bask in the outdoors, to be in the circle of life, to breath, to walk, to eat and to nurture my family. Did you catch all that in your last exit from the fast food drive thru?
If archery is the most ancient art then mentoring has to be the second most ancient. Humanity's very first archer had to teach and pass on the art to the next generation of archers and was thus the first Mentor. Creating an endless chain of gift giving which carries on to this day. This passing on of art is in itself an art form. The art of mentoring. Handing to the next generation all that has been gained through a life of discipline, hard knocks, mistakes, successes, hits and near misses and most importantly-never quitting. Handing over a gift money cannot buy... a priceless treasure reserved only for those with the discipline to commit to its pursuit for a lifetime, for those people we call Mentors. Everlasting life is not about some fantasy land on a cloud in the sky with 20 virgins but more so about an endless, unbroken chain of gift giving which reverberates through the ages. Thus to reach everlasting life you must be willing to share... to give away life's most precious treasure. You must become a mentor. The pinnacle of human achievement is to pass on one's love for their art. It is with deep gratitude that I am able to now share my life's pursuit with that next generation.
I had the privilege of mentoring today's student Kaleb last fall for his very first hunting experience and to harvest his first deer with a rifle. We started with basic rifle marksmanship and worked all the way through learning about the quarry, making the shot, field dressing, skinning, deboning and even final processing and meal prepping. This coming fall our goal is to take everything next level and build him into an archery hunter. Today for lesson one we spent most of our time on the basics... and didn't even shoot an arrow. Archery lesson one was based on one word- consistency. For to pull off the perfect shot complete self discipline to consistency of form is paramount. Being in tune with mind, body and spirit in the moment is what is required. As I worked with Kaleb on the basics of this it helped me to remember how these same basics apply to almost every undertaking in life. A basic requirement for me to be a great dad, to be a great employee, to be a great businessman, to be a great pilot, to be a great jump roper, or whatever I am doing all requires the same thing.... Being in tune with mind, body and spirit. Quieting the world and being IN THE ZONE.
I pray that you too will develop your own art form, whatever it may be. And that you too will be given the opportunity to pass that art on to the next generation. An act of love which will reverberate on through the ages. That opportunity to freely give away the greatest treasure on earth. A treasure which cannot be bought with gold but only earned through a lifetime of commitment, discipline and a never quit mentality. A hard fought treasure that you in turn freely give away to the next generation thereby earning the exalted title of MENTOR.