Overcoming Adversity: The Steely Claws of Responsibility
In my book, Zen Hunting, I address two important life concepts which are related. The first is what I talked about in my last blog (Adverse Conditions), and the second is “the steely claws of responsibility.”
The steely claws of responsibility represent the controlling aspects of daily life which causes stress and affects our mood in adverse ways. These symbolic ‘claws’ grasp hold of us when we least expect it and keep us from reaching our goals or finding happiness. Examples might be a car crash, a serious illness, family emergencies, financial struggles, etc.
How do the steely claws relate to bowhunting? Allow me to get personal:
This year was going along quite well until just recently. I was about to enter into next month’s bowhunt with a stress-free mind and a positive attitude. But in just the few weeks I have endured surprise attacks from every direction: financial woes, family problems, work problems, and car problems. As the stress and negativity mounted, I was suddenly hit with déjà vu. This sort of thing seems to happen every year around the same time, as far back as 1997 when my now ex-wife ran off with another man from her work. That year I went into the woods feeling like I was going to throw up on my boots. The fact is I can’t remember the last time I entered the peaceful woods without some black cloud looming over me.
I suppose this is just how life works. You see, when I go into the woods this year, I’m going to shoot an innocent and beautiful animal to death in cold blood with a razor-tipped arrow, and maybe watch it die right in front of me. Do you think that sort of thing is free? Do you think the God or Nature would allow this to happen without some sort of recompense?
Nowadays, a failed hunt results in a little disappointment, and maybe a razzing from fellow hunters. In ancient times, a failed hunt meant starvation. Do you think those ancient peoples—for tens of thousands of years—didn’t experience some level of stress prior to and during the great hunt?
Pain and suffering is how the universe maintains balance and order, and so I willingly accept pain and suffering as payment for my taking of great animals.
The long-term effects of stress can be harmful, but the short-term effects are good. Stress raises my heart rate, it focuses my mind, and it separates the trivial from the important. The regular seepage of adrenaline into my blood gives me an energy boost. It sharpens my mind on an otherwise hot and lazy day. My patience becomes thinner, but my decisions are quicker and clearer.
As dreadful as they are, ‘the steely claws of responsibility’ exist to help me succeed in hunting and life.