The results of my shooting practice today at the range got me to reflect on the relentless pursuit and promotion of perfection and success in modern society.
The media is constantly filled with stories touting the latest sports achievement, academic finding or perfect physical specimen from the social pages. It is all, “Look at me and what I (or they) have achieved! You can also achieve this if you spend your life in similar pursuits! If you don’t, you must be a lazy schmuck with no regard to your appearance or social standing!”. I disagree.
Looking at my range results I consider that while I am not a master shooter, I am probably better than most police in terms of the amount that I practice and the results I achieve. However I compete with true professionals and I know the wide gap that exists between my results and theirs.
Can I be better? Of course, with constant and diligent practice I could improve further – but for who’s benefit? Most of the shooting professionals I know spend hours each day on the range, and travel and compete multiple times per week. Whether it is shooting, golfing, bridge or academic degrees, achieving improvement in any area requires the expenditure of my most valuable resource, time. The minutes allocated to my life are fixed, and spending them to the greatest benefit of myself and those I care for is how I prefer to focus my attention. A yardstick that I must always remember to apply to my goals is “for whose benefit am I doing this? my true self or my ego (monkey mind)?”.
Being a better human overall by equally spreading my attention to my mental, physical and emotional endeavors, is far likelier to bring me long term contentment than it would for me to focus on all my attention on one or just a few areas, with the goal of being a “master” of the area. At the end of the day there will always be someone better in whatever area I wish to master, and putting myself in constant competition with others is hardly the recipe for tranquility.