The restless arrow.

February 18, 2017 § 4 Comments


If I were to represent our species with a symbol it would be an arrow. The direction of the arrow is unimportant; that changes quickly and often.

The important thing is that an arrow is going somewhere with all possible haste. And so are we.

Our existence is made manifest, validated, and given importance by how quickly we fly toward a destination.

But the goal, once we get there, is not a steady state, not a resting place. The arrow will move on, taking aim at another target, another must-get-to place it will fly right past, hesitating just long enough to check the accomplishment off the list.

Then onward!

arrowsWe aim for “there,” but “there” never becomes “here.”

“There” is a moving target, so we spend our lives in transit.

The sense of arrival is fleeting. Few rest on the laurels of a goal achieved, few rest, period.


I figure things out as I write, and looking at that last sentence I see I inadvertently revealed another side of the arrow-flight that is human endeavor.

We equate arrival with rest. And what is rest for?

Rest is for gathering ourselves for the next rush, not for enjoying where we are. We see little inherent value in being still except as it prepares us for the next lunge.

Maybe this is why we have so little respect for the old who must rest. We are impressed by busyness, not stillness.

We are what we do. In stillness, who are we?

arrows-2But can we keep this up?

The speed of the moving arrow is steadily increasing. More, and more, and more stimuli are prodding us to step it up, move a little faster.

We are pushing the capacity of our restless, driven species.

The friction generated by constant motion is threatening to burn us up.

We humans are symbolic thinkers; you all got the arrow metaphor. Sometimes change begins by changing the metaphor. Let’s replace that arrow with a dot smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.

It is tiny. Insignificant. It is going nowhere because it has arrived. It is now.

And so are we. We are now, and only now.

Perhaps in this now we are making chocolate chip cookies.  This now will give way to another. We will eat the cookies in some other now, but in this now we are breaking an egg on the edge of a bowl, only that.

breaking-an-eggLiving an arrow-life, the egg still gets broken, the cookies baked, but the mind of the baker has rushed ahead to the phone call that has to be made, the meeting coming up at work.

What is actually happening has been left behind in favor of what does not yet exist, and if that is where we live, did we live at all, or are our lives fictional, imaginary?

Are we giving away this moment, the only thing we have, in favor of a future over which we exert complete control–but only until it becomes now?

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