Adventures with 8th graders episode 117

Me: (takes phone away because student keeps using it rather than writing her essay)

Student: what if my mom calls?

Me: then you’ll find out later

Student: but what if it’s important?

Me: then you’ll find out later

Student: but what if she’s in the hospital and it’s an emergence and she wants to talk to me?

Me: then you’ll find out later

Student: but what if I took your phone and let’s say your wife is pregnant and she goes into labor and has a baby and you’re not even there and then she is mad and divorces you?

Me: then I’ll find out later

The Competition

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Tarbon’s target was first. The judges approached it, studied it, and without much hesitation, one of them shouted, “Fifty points for Captain Tarbon of the green team! A perfect score!” Tarbon raised his bow up high and the crowd cheered loudly. It seemed that Tarbon, too, had some fans. The judges continued to the next man’s target; the man from the red team. They paused and announced, “Forty-eight points for Sergeant Pahr from the red team!” Again, the people cheered, but not as loudly as they had for Captain Tarbon. Then they moved to the third man’s target. “Fifty points for Bak!” Now the cheers were significantly less even though the man shot well, apparently because no one knew who he was and he was not part of a team. Durbar waited patiently for them to assess his target, though he was confident of the result. They counted his points and proclaimed, “Fifty points for Durbar of the blue team!” The onlookers roared for Durbar and he became excited that they were cheering for him but remained focused, not letting himself be distracted. There were still another fifteen arrows to shoot.

Next, the targets were moved to seventy-five feet. Each man shot his arrows and they were counted: forty-eight points for Tarbon, forty-four for Pahr of the red team, forty-eight for Bak, and forty-eight for Durbar. So far, the competition was even for the top three men.

Durbar found himself torn between relishing the support of people watching and shooting his bow. He finally turned, smiled, and waved when someone cried “Sureshot!” His senses battled for control. His ears reached for the sounds of praise, and his eyes struggled to focus on the target downrange.

Now, the targets were moved to one hundred feet. Each man again shot five arrows and they were totaled: forty-eight for Tarbon, forty-four for Pahr, forty-six for Bak, and forty-six for Durbar. The competition was becoming more intense by the minute. Now Durbar trailed Tarbon by two points and was tied for second. Tarbon was letting his emotions run and appealed to the crowd for support. The crowd hollered as the captain waved his arms in the air urging them to get louder. Durbar tried not to worry. He knew that he was more capable of hitting the furthest target than the other three men. All he needed to do was beat out one of them to advance to the final round.

The targets were repositioned at one hundred and fifty feet. The men shot their last arrows and waited anxiously as the judges went down range to count the scores.

The announcer began, “Captain Tarbon representing the green team scored forty-two points giving him one hundred and ninety points! Sergeant Pahr representing the red team scored forty points giving him one hundred and seventy-six. Bak of no team, scored forty-four points giving him one hundred and eighty-eight, and Durbar the Sureshot of the blue team scored forty-six points making one hundred and ninety. Tarbon and Durbar advance to the final round.” The crowd cheered wildly for the two bowmen. The judges continued, “Bak is awarded third place and Pahr will receive fourth,” and with that men scrambled to reset the targets for the final match between the two archers that everyone wanted to see—the local hero and the new sensation.

Never before had the competition been so close. Bak was third by only one shot, and Pahr had not shot poorly. In fact, one hundred and seventy-six was a respectable score; still in that field he was far behind the other three and was left to take fourth place.

Only the two center targets were left for the final match. Each man was given twenty new arrows. Neither man looked at the other. Both were focused solely on their targets.

Life is fragile

With the obvious tragic death of 9 people in a helicopter, a deadly virus growing into a pandemic, earthquakes, fires and a number of other catastrophes around the world, it is difficult not to remember how fragile life is.

In our post industrial world we often feel somewhat invincible. We have nice homes, plenty of food, vehicles to transport us wherever we like and an attitude that we deserve whatever it is we want. Why wouldn’t we feel invincible with all of our luxuries and the illusion of safety?

Alas we are not as safe as we deceive ourselves and our lives are under constant threat of expiration. Whether from disease, accident, malicious behavior or natural disaster, we are vulnerable. It is important to remember that we will not and cannot live indefinitely, but we need not despair. It is this mortality that increases life’s meaning and value.

As we plod along thinking we are ever safe and free from threats, our lives lose the spark and luster we love. We sometimes seek out daring things to add some level of danger that makes us feel alive. But we don’t need it. We are always on the verge of the end if we were to really stop and consider it. So we can embrace our own mortality and enjoy each moment more than we are currently.

Life is an adventure. There is always something new we can do, people we can meet, experiences to enjoy. We can wake up every day and find a reason to enjoy the breath in our lungs and the blood in our veins. If we are not finding the fantastic things in our world and our lives to enjoy then were are wasting the brief opportunity we have in this world. We will all, one day, slip from life and be reduced to mere atoms once more. And we have no idea when that day will come, so we must seize every moment and celebrate them.

Stop pretending we will live forever. Stop pretending we are safe. Laugh louder, eat better, breathe deeper, love harder and live fully. Nothing else is respectful of our mortality. Much love.

TBT: It’s been a while

It’s been a while

Since you’ve hurt me this badly

It was just a matter of time sadly

When I needed you, you weren’t here

You were out with friends drinking beer

And more? How will I ever know?

I guess it wasn’t even that long ago

That you blew me off and blew someone else

Then made me feel the fault was in myself

So talented at making me the bad guy

While you have fun and roll so high

All the while blaming me for your deeds

Leaving me with my unfulfilled needs

Then mocking me for the feelings I have

Holding my broken heart as you laugh

And spit in my face while I cry

Hurting me to the point I’d rather die