Taking the Time to Aim

Last summer, I made an expensive mistake. I was itching to get something done and instead of pausing to make sure I was doing the right thing, I reacted to my itch.

My mistake cost me a lot of money. Since then, I’ve hired someone to fix my error. I’ve put my trust in him. He knows what he’s doing and he’s waiting patiently for the right moment to do the right thing. When all this happened, my brother told me I was in Ready-Fire-Aim mode. I fired away without taking the time to aim.

I realize now I’ve lived parts of my life this way. I don’t take the time to aim before I fire and I end up in situations where I look around and think “Damn! How do I get myself out of this one?”

My problem is that I’m uncomfortable when things are unsettled. I often don’t like what in-between moments feel like. Waiting is hard for me. And when I don’t take some sort of action, it feels like I’m doing nothing. I react to the unsettled feeling and fire away. But in doing so, I often end up in a worse spot.

I see now that the aiming phase is probably the most important one. It’s the time to gather information. It’s the time to pause and gain clarity. It’s the time for contemplation.

Richard Rohr writes about it this way:

The opposite of contemplation is not action, it is reaction. We must wait for pure action, which proceeds from deep silence...without some degree of inner and even outer silence, we are never living, never tasting the moment.

Contemplation is not about inaction–it’s about taking the time to discern the right action. It’s about pausing to determine the target or goal. It’s an inner working kind of action. On the outside, it may look like nothing’s happening, but on the inside there’s a whole lot going on.

So I’m learning to slow down and to get comfortable with that unsettled feeling I have when I’m in-between things. I’m learning to calm my itchy feet. Is this easy for me? Hell, no. My natural state of being is much more like a frenetic hummingbird than a calm, wise owl. It takes a lot of energy for me to be still.

And although it’s not easy for me sit with unsettled in-between moments, it’s only in doing so that I will discern my target and the right action to take.

Otherwise, I’ll probably miss the mark. 

Right action happens when I take the time to aim before I fire. 

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