Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 21, Part 15

Trey Smith

Lieh Yu-k'ou was demonstrating his archery to Po-hun Wu-jen. He drew the bow as far as it would go, placed a cup of water on his elbow, and let fly. One arrow had no sooner left his thumb ring than a second was resting in readiness beside his arm guard, and all the while he stood like a statue. Po-hun Wu-jen said, "This is the archery of an archer, not the archery of a nonarcher! Try climbing up a high mountain with me, scrambling over the steep rocks to the very, brink of an eight-hundred-foot chasm - then we'll see what kind of shooting you can do!"

Accordingly they proceeded to climb a high mountain, scrambling over the steep rocks to the brink of an eight-hundred-foot chasm. There Po-hun Wu-jen, turning his back to the chasm, walked backwards until his feet projected halfway off the edge of the cliff, bowed to Lieh Yu-k'ou, and invited him to come forward and join him. But Lieh Yu-k'ou cowered on the ground, sweat pouring down all the way to his heels. Po-hun Wu-jen said, "The Perfect Man may stare at the blue heavens above, dive into the Yellow Springs below, ramble to the end of the eight directions, yet his spirit and bearing undergo no change. And here you are in this cringing, eye-batting state of mind - if you tried to take aim now, you would be in certain peril!"

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Each of us has our own comfort zone. Put us in one situation and we act flawlessly, but change the variables a bit and we become wholly discombobulated. As an autistic individual, I must admit that I envy those who seem better equipped to roll with the punches.

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

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