I SHOT AN ARROW INTO THE AIR
(fm journal archives)
I shot an arrow into the air, it would be falling to earth sometime later I didn’t have a clue where, since it was a 60-pound-pull recurved bow and I (like the several friends who were there that day) was an invincible 16 years of age, so launched the arrow with all my strength straight up into the gusty autumn day, where the dot disappeared at about 250 feet over a cow-empty pasture-- and who at that age could have foreseen the fact, let alone cared, that an arrow can suddenly be gone up there like that, somewhere high over several heads? WOW!
Now this was life, this was adventure-- until the realization that the pointed killmissile would in a few seconds be coming down somewhere of which we were all integral parts. I had been tested by the world before and I had survived, but this was different: I had no decisive role to play here, as I’d had with the sudden effortless grab of a high tree limb, the lightning flick of a steering wheel or a quick reflexive grip on a bridge girder. Those of us out there under that lethal umbrella of arrow that would be landing any second were now all in the same pasture, over which we were running like mad in every direction, because where the hell to?
The wisdom of foresight belongs to those who survive, as teenagers often do for one reason or another; at the time, on the scene, none of us had any spatial or directional preference, really, because by this late moment before imminent death from above, “where” had no more meaning than “when”; even an Olympian couldn’t run far and fast enough (300+ meters in 15 seconds, at a retroguess) through deep grass dotted with slickery cowpats.
What’s more, we had no idea where the overhead streaking microdot of death - were it even visible - would land; anywhere was the answer: any point you are running toward was where: how the hell could you know? That was god’s department.
But you’ve got to do something, it’s just not teenagerly possible to stand there awaiting the descent of death with so much space around, instinct insisting you at least make it hard for death to find you, plus you feel it even more if you just stand there, with time to imagine the high-speed metal tip penetrating its fated target, but you have no steel umbrella or tank lid, so running for your life is the best bet and at that age you do run well, so at least during those precious seconds remaining before skydeath you run zigzag in all directions, as away from all fears...
What a condensed life metaphor it is in retrospect, an invisible arrow now descending as fast as it shot off on its arc, while we all live on until. It was life or death right then and there for me and Mick, Jackie, Teddy, George, Paul, Marty, maybe Charlie and a couple other guys but we all survived, at least that day; we must’ve learned something from it, to use as we went on to disappear into our own skies...
But then, after so many tingly seconds had passed and we were all still alive and unhurt: Where’s the arrow, let’s do it again!
When you reach elder, you get to wonder how you made it this far...