Today's poem is very ancient: Chuang Tze lived in the 3rd or 4th century BCE
The Need to Win
When an archer is shooting for nothing He has all his skill. If he shoots for a brass buckle He is already nervous. If he shoots for a prize of gold He goes blind Or sees two targets -- He is out of his mind!
His skill has not change. But the prize Divides him. He cares. He thinks more of winning Than of shooting -- And the need to win Drains him of power.
[Translated from Chinese by Thomas Merton]
This is as true today as it was more than two millennia ago.
I wish I could have illustrated this with a picture from the Nadam archery games in Mongolia which I wittnessed. Both men and women, in traditional costumes [deels] competed within the category of their sex; I felt I was wittnessing something very, very ancient ... indeed, as the poem shows, it was.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!