The Power of the Unintended Action

Where does the arrow go when it leaves your bow?

There is a short poem I remember from years gone by.

Bow and arrowThe Arrow and the Song

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I shot an arrow into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For, so swiftly it flew, the sight

Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For who has sight so keen and strong,

That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak

I found the arrow, still unbroke;

And the song, from beginning to end,

I found again in the heart of a friend.

 I do not like to lose arrows, and back in the day I worked hard on finding all those flung arrows from my bow. The stabilization of an arrow in flight is made so by material, such as feathers, to ensure that the arrow goes where intended. As a kid, I had an older bow and an arrow with a missing strip of fletched material. As I fired at a tree, the wind caught the arrow and it sailed straight up and over the 40 foot tree and landed in the pasture behind.

No control. Wild. A mind of its own.

With all fletching in place, the arrow would have struck the tree. With the missing feather, the arrow had a mind of its own. 

Strange how you can send something in flight one way with an intended target or direction – and then, like the poem, it goes awry and in a totally unintended direction. Perhaps lost.

2015-03-25 09.33.06Every day I play with my dogs. Bailey, my golden retriever, loves to retrieve the flung ball. Nukka cares little about it unless she can hide it from Bailey.

The other day I tossed the ball back to the house to let it clean off in the grass as I fed the dogs.

Walking to the house I could not find the ball anywhere, so I left it for Bailey to find the next day. Surely he could find it by scent. He did. Excitedly he refused to let me fling again until the next day.

Made me think about the unintended directions of our words. Perhaps we have said the same thing over and over. It’s a regular part of our conversation. But then one day, by accident, our words swing wildly out of control, escaping to an unintended direction.

EmbarressedIt’s like that basketball player that was on a panel being interviewed. Thinking the mic was silent he uttered his thoughts to the others on the panel. Then he was shocked that the audience had heard him and then hid behind his hands…. (Watch here)

 Politicians, stars and starlets, and even pageant contestants… And yes, even you and I. We all say things we do not intend on others hearing. Yet, out of the abundance of the heart… the mouth will speak! 1-2-3-4…. (Matthew 12:34)

There are times we say the same thing we’ve always said, only the consequences of words come back to haunt us because it has been taken amiss.

Sometimes there are hits, and sometimes there are misses. By a country mile!

How do we respond to these moments? Each of us has a unique way of handling these problems. Et tu?


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