I've been suffering a Type A personality crisis of faith recently. I'm an archery geek. I love shooting. I love talking about bows. And arrows. And I used to love competing and had dreams of big things like the World Cup and the Olympics. But I don't any more, at least not right now. I am grappling with parts of my shooting form. When you are trying to learn something and struggle to get it right, standing up and submitting your efforts to evaluation from the harsh words of your internal critic to the scrutiny of others can be down right crushing. At least to me it is.
I know plenty of archers with much better attitudes than me that go to tournaments and shoot their best for that moment and have fun doing it. They love competing no matter what I envy this attitude, but I can't fully understand it; though the events of this weekend shed some light on how this point of view works.
This weekend, I had two great experiences; the first didn't involve archery. My husband has discovered Kickstarter, and he delights in the idea of helping people reach their dreams. One of the projects he decided to back, a campaign for a new staging of "Romeo & Juliet" as an independent student project at Rutgers University, reached full funding and granted him two tickets based on his support. While Shakespeare and I have never been friends, my husband really loves it and was thrilled to see something he supported come to life. And I must say the amazing production by director Laura Williams and her company of actors won me over. With an ensemble cast, swapping roles through slight changes of their avant-garde costumes, to the incorporation of modern dance to stage the action, to the passion of the actors' delivery of the Bard, this play delivered on all fronts.
The next day at the New Jersey States Outdoor Archery Championships, I told my good friend and fellow archer and young men's camp director, Dr. Candice Raines, about the play. I expressed to her how wonderful the performance was, a really unique take on the age-old play, and how sad it made me that at most only a few hundred people in New Brunswick, NJ would see it.
But why sad, my friend asked. She then pointed out to me that the production was an example of a dream fulfilled. The director ran a successful Kickstarter and then staged a captivating performance. It didn't need to be more than that to be successful. It didn't need the approval of thousands or people or to be staged in New York City to count.
If you haven't guessed, Dr. Raines is one of those archers I admire who face a competition with spunk and a great attitude no matter the conditions. She plays a game with herself each round of the tournament, setting interim goals to break through. They are not grand goals, but achievable based on her current performance levels, and when she hits her targets, she celebrates with a smile, a spark of joy. She is proud of these goals -- not because anyone else knows about them -- but because she does.
Then today, a third gift arrived to me in the form of a message from Kickstarter. The enterprising farmer we buy our grass-fed beef announced her Kickstarter campaign to build a farm store. Jeanmarie Mitchell previously explained to us before the challenges she faced when submitting her farming practices to traditional banks; they don't understand her slow-raised, completely grass-fed, love-the-cows efforts. But there she fearlessly submitted what she is learning about sound and sustainable agriculture to the banks, to her customers and now to people on Kickstarter. She isn't afraid that what she is doing isn't good enough to withstand the scrutiny, and she didn't stop farming when the traditional banks denied her funding. Instead, she is finding her own path and seeks her own backers to make her dreams come true.
Seeing these women put themselves out there into the world and achieve their goals certainly provided me with a lot of food for thought. Instead of caring about success in the larger world, instead of setting unattainable goals for myself or shirking away when challenges seem to great to overcome, I hope I can learn from these women and get together the moxie to find my own heart's desire going forward.