Once upon a time, a friend told me that life is a lot like bow hunting with your uncle…
“To be the best, you need to learn from the best.”
I told him, “That’s obvious.”
He told me, “Fuck off."
I said, "Touchę."
He ignored me, "So let’s say the best bow hunter in all of the land is your uncle who happens to own the land you bow hunt on. This means you need to learn how to bow hunt from him first. And then you need to spend time bow hunting on his land. But more than anything, you need to love the act of bow hunting because that’s the only hope you’ll ever have of being anywhere near as good as your uncle, right?”
“And then, after your uncle has taught you everything he can, after your bow has been used more than anybody else’s, and after you’ve fallen profoundly in love with the act of bow hunting and everything it involves, you might actually wake up to find yourself a better bow hunter than your uncle. Which would mean what?”
“I’m a really good bow hunter?”
“Not just good. It means you are now the best bow hunter in all of the land.”
“I’m not done. Now if this happens, you might be surprised. You might be excited. You might even be cocky. But you’ll probably also feel a little guilty. In which case, you might ask yourself, ‘Why do I deserve to be the best bow hunter in all of the land?’”
“Because I worked hard to be the best?”
“But you don’t own the land. You haven’t bow hunted as long as your uncle. And some might even say that it’s a selfish act to take the lives of the animals you are bow hunting.”
He paused but I knew enough at this point to keep my mouth shut.
He continued, “But I believe that to truly know that you are the very best bow hunter in all of the land, there are three requirements you must be able to check off:
“First, you are required to RESPECT the animals you are bow hunting.
“Second, you are required to HONOR the land your uncle owns.
“And third, you are required to LOVE the act of bow hunting and everything and everybody it involves (especially your uncle and your uncle’s land and every animal who lives on your uncle’s land!) because then and only then will you truly know your place in the natural order of life, death, and everything in between.”
I opened my mouth to say something dumb, but he stopped me.
I closed my mouth again.
“If you can’t check off every one of those three very very very important requirements, then you know what?”
“Then you’re definitely not the best bow hunter in all of the land and honestly you’re probably not even that good.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means just enjoy bow hunting with your uncle, you fucking idiot.”
We both paused for a moment.
And then we laughed...
And then we cried...
And then we went bow hunting with our uncle.