This article by Srikumar Rao originally appeared on The Rao Institute.
Here is a tale that is not in the Mahabharata, the massive opus that is a big part of the cultural heritage of India. But it very well might have been because that work is replete with similar stories.
Arjuna, the third brother of the Pandava clan, was a great archer. He was reputedly the best in the world. He used his bow, Gandiva, so dexterously that he could shoot an arrow and then hit it with a second arrow before it had finished its flight.
Once he was walking by himself and went further than he intended. He came to a village where there were signs of an extraordinary bowman. There were painted targets everywhere – on the boles of trees, on the sides of barns, hanging on poles in the middle of fields.
And, there was an arrow spang in the center of every one of them. It was always in the bullseye and many bullseyes were so tiny that the arrowhead was larger.
Arjuna noted one target that was wrapped around the corner of a shed and the small bullseye was correspondingly bent and made even tinier. But, even here, the incomparable archer had hit it dead center and his arrow was held in place by a splinter it had dislodged.
Arjuna took the Gandiva off his back and strung it. He took an arrow from his quiver and sighted it carefully before loosing it.
He missed. But it was such a narrow miss that the wind from its passing knocked the other arrow down.
Arjuna knew he had to meet this extraordinary marksman.
He came back the next day in the evening, when the villagers had come back from the fields, and made inquiries.
The villagers gladly pointed out the bowman.
He turned out to be a young lad, barely out of his teens, and quite scrawny.
“How,” Arjuna asked him with great respect, “Do you shoot so accurately? Many years have I practiced but I cannot match your performance.”
“It’s easy,” said the boy and willingly shared his secret.
He shot the arrow first and then drew the target around it.
And, right there, is a lesson for us.
We strive hard to reach a goal and frequently fail. Our arrow does not hit the target. We are then forlorn and disconsolate.
But we can, just as easily, take whatever has transpired, and embrace it fully. We can draw the bullseye around where the arrow has lodged itself.
We may or may not be lauded as great archers, but our experience of life becomes immeasurably better.
Think about it.
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