Pulling Back the Arrow

Photo: Corey Amaro

You’ve got goals.

Maybe they’re clearly defined, like words written in a notebook or images mounted on a board. Or maybe they’re more of a general idea, known only to you, like a prayer in the heart.

Either way, they feel so elusive –like you’re actually going backwards sometimes instead of forwards.

You know what I mean.

In her post, Would You Rather Be Productive or Creative?, Caitlyn Kelly offers that creativity actually depends upon a certain amount of un-productivity —the tree-watching, the pot-stirring, the dance-doing:

“…the quiet moments of connection and insight that can, when allowed to blossom quietly unforced by another’s schedule, birth wonders.”

How reasonable.

Yet, so many of us feel anxious or even guilty if we fall behind.

I once shared the story of my classical guitar teacher, who never chastised me if I couldn’t practice. “If you can’t practice,” she said, “then go out and live. Let your experiences inform your music the next time you sit down to it.”

So I did, and my music was far richer for it.

Likewise, I knew of a yoga devotee who, it seemed, had fallen away from his practice. All of his peers spoke about him with pity, but his guru knew better.

“He is just pulling back the arrow,” the respected teacher said.

Sometimes, it appears that we’re pulling back in defeat, when, in fact, we’re just pulling back as a natural matter of course –like the tide ebbs before it flows, or an arrow is drawn before it flies.


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22 Responses to Pulling Back the Arrow

  1. Thais says:

    I recently wrote a post about why I felt like my baby steps were actually backward steps. People tried to give me advise but I still feel like i have failed. But this very post is so comforting to me!!! I LOVE that – I am pulling back the arrow. Thank you <3

  2. Nancy A says:

    wow this is a beautiful post. i absolutely love the “pulling back the arrow” metaphor. wonderful and made my morning! thanks

  3. Shanna Mann says:

    That *is* a great metaphor. I always use the period of dormancy that plants undergo. You cannot create *all* the time. You’ll use up your own reserves. But I find it just as hard to step away from the gratification of productivity as the next person, so I often keep 2 or three completely disparate projects on the go, something so different that they nourish each other in surprising ways.

  4. Fran Sussman says:

    I have always had great respect for the natural rhythms of life, and able to draw comfort, when things fall away, from a trust that they will always ebb and flow. But the past few months have been difficult in unusual ways, and for the first time it has felt at times that it is my practice that is falling away, and that’s a new experience for me. To remember this applies to yoga too, over time, and to pull back and see it from a larger perspective, is profoundly healing. Thank you.

  5. Tara SG says:

    I absolutely love this analogy! What a beautifully inspiring idea :)

    • Rupa says:

      I love it, too, Tara. To credit my source, the guru I mention is Srila BR Sridhara Swami, whom I saw only once before his passing in 1988, but who remains a source of great comfort and inspiration to me.

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  6. Roxanne says:

    This post speaks hard and profound truths in such a delicate way. The process to which you are referring – that web of creativity and (un!)productivity – reminds me of climbing up a volcano: Even though you are always moving upward, the little volcanic stones will always pull you back a few steps, so you do not realize the pace of your own ascent. Thank you for encouraging us to set the measuring tape aside and embrace the creativity and all it brings with it.

    • Rupa says:

      That’s a good image, Roxanne, and true! I’ve hiked a few (inactive) volcanoes to know. I’m grateful for your kind words –and especially for your visit. xo

  7. Chris Bowers says:

    It is obvious I choose creativity.

  8. lissa says:

    Great post. I love the concept of going out and living if you don’t have time to practice. it’s a whole other form of practice & really valuable.

  9. Pingback: Would you Rather Be Productive Or Creative? « Feed The Spark

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