I tried to become a runner, but a teeny tiny spleen pain was enough to make me stop. (Actually, to start walking quietly I needed my breath just to be a bit faster.)
I locked myself into a gym, trying to become just one thing with each tool, but no way: at the end I found myself back on the couch, getting out sometimes just for a easy walk, but only if the sun was up in the sky and I had a friend by my side.
Not a sporty and tenacious person indeed.
But then I began archery, a discipline I’ve never thought about. Just a few times and I felt in love with it.
The first thing I love about archery is that I know I really want to do that. Despite the thousand commitments that any student has, I am always excited to cross Milan to get to the field, a little bucolic heaven at boundaries of the city.
What I love about archery is the focus it requires: the preparation of the stuff, the rope to stretch, the viewfinder to put at the right height, the fingers tab and the protective arm guard, whose precious value is realized just when a huge multicolor bruise becomes part of you for at least one week.
Upright posture, breathing, blades almost touching, high elbow, stretched arm.
Each phase is fundamental for the shot to be right, much more than the aim in itself.
The need for the ritual to be exact makes me obliged to be focused just on this, which is quite pleasant, especially for those who, like me, tend to overthink.
Another thing I love about archery is the sound: when I pull the arrow out of the quiver, the nock that clicks as soon as it embeds the rope, the rope vibes and the sound of the arrows that cleave the air to finally penetrating the straw. And the sound, when it gets to the center of it, is always full, round, just as the if target itself was pleased by your shooting.
I love the feelings it creates. The warming of the straw when I put my hand on it while with the I extract the arrow with the other hand. The feeling of all my muscles in tension, of the rope so close to my mouth, as if it could whisper just a word to make it vibe in a perfect harmony with each muscle.
I love the walk to the target, the shades of the arrow that give me a hint on the success of the shooting before I get to see it.
What I love about archery is its capability to get me in another reality. As soon as I attach the quiver on my belt it’s just as If I started living in a different dimension: ancient, magical. I feel like a brave horsewoman, getting ready for the war. Or maybe I just have a crush on Jon Snow (of Game of Thrones for those poor you who don’t watch it) and I would like to be the archer of his heart.
Too sweet, isn’t it?
Finally, I also love the memories it gives me every time I look up, holding my bow and staring at the target. I feel a sense of gratitude for the person that first put the arm guard on me and showed me how to shoot the arrow and I think how amazing it is when you realize that just a person could influence another’s life: without that meeting, I would have never started.
Herrigel Eugen wrote a book: “Zen in the art of archery”, where he explains that in Japan archery is a discipline that could help you to get the zen. A path with and against yourself, since the thing you are going to hit with your arrow is not just a target but it’s your deepest self.
The zen is an abstract concept and actually I don’t even know if I am getting close to it.
What I really know is that for the three hours I am on the field with my bow, I can’t think of anything but the arrow, the posture and target, surrounded by the nature.
And it is an amazing feeling.