It really all boils down to bad aim. We take a shot, miscalculating speed, trajectory, depth…and we miss. Whether it’s tossing an inanimate object to another person, or dealing with more severe situations- relationships, judgment calls, business decisions, friendships. Sometimes we just don’t hit what we are shooting for. At times we come close…but what is it my grandpa used to say? Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. As it turns out, close doesn’t really amount to much in relationships. Close isn’t good enough. It’s mediocre. Are my standards high? Yeah…I guess they are. But the older I get, the more I remember that we only get one shot at life, and every day that we’re just “getting by” is a day we might be missing out on the chance to actually be stupidly happy.
This morning began with a definite case of bad aim- literally. A mis-thrown set of keys, aimed at the hands, missed, and hit somewhere questionable on accident. The entire incident was blown way out of proportion, and I kicked myself for my terrible aim since it apparently started World War III due to the ridiculous accusation that I somehow missed on purpose. Which, if you know me at all, is preposterous on several fronts. I have terrible aim, for starters. Snowball fights are downright embarrassing. In addition to my aim being less than spot on, I’m also not exactly the vengeful type. I’m more of the “silently sit and weep as I feel absolutely awful about it until it’s all patched up and better” type. Yes, there’s a type for that. But, regardless of the claim that my aim was just plain pathetic, the overreacting won out, and you can imagine how the rest of the day went. Less than spectacular.
So, as I was standing in my kitchen mixing a cocktail, shaking my head at this ridiculous turn of events, I actually said out loud to myself, “…all this because of bad aim…” And the irony of it hit me hard- because that’s exactly what the last decade has been for me- a terribly complex, multi-faceted case of bad aim. Welcome to my metaphor.
I just can’t seem to hit what I’m aiming for. Honestly, I can’t. Even though I don’t think it’s incredibly complicated. I want to go to bed happy- or wake up happy. Either one would be great. Both would be fantastic. I want to be inspired. I want to adore someone and have them adore me back. I want my tears to be fiercely unacceptable. I don’t want to want to change someone, and I don’t want them to try to change me either. I want to leave my mark and improve someone else’s life- even in just a small way. I want to be better for having known someone, and maybe I’ll be able to pass that along to someone else, paying it forward. Because isn’t that the whole point?
Why is it so hard to hit my mark? And how do I improve my aim? Practice, I guess. Every situation prepares us for the next. I have been challenged by every relationship I’ve had in the past decade. I’ve learned that trying twice at something doesn’t mean anything has changed, and sometimes people simply aren’t right for each other. I’ve learned that you can’t love someone enough to cure alcoholism, anger or emotional problems. I learned how to accept people for who they are, and not for who I think they should be- and that sometimes you’re good together and sometimes you’re better off apart no matter how painful that is to accept. I learned what it feels like to look back on a relationship and ask myself what on earth I was thinking, knowing that within the hazy confines of that situation it looked a hell of a lot different. I’ve learned how to be good friends after a relationship didn’t work out. I’ve learned that we can’t go into situations knowing what we are looking for, and expect to find it. More often than not, what I didn’t know I was looking for found me instead.
I’ve learned that people sometimes act like someone they’re not, maybe to manipulate, maybe to gain favor, maybe to cause pain- or maybe because they can’t help it. I’ve learned that people typically don’t change for someone else…they only change when they realize it’s what they need to do for themselves. And that it doesn’t matter how many times someone tells you their intentions- if they don’t transform those words into actions, it means nothing. Intentions are merely empty ideals, with no substance, no weight, no legitimacy. No value.
But maybe- just maybe- you’re closing in on the target, and eventually you’ll hit what you’re aiming for.