Shooting Clay Pigeons
This leap occurred in my mid 20’s. It was a leap of understanding something that I had just accepted as a problem that was just “the way it was.” It happened as a result of my joining a trap-shooting-club (shooting clay disks with a shot gun.) Each time it is your turn, you stand at the line, call “pull” and a clay pigeon is shot out by a person in a bunker in front of you (so you can’t shoot them.)
The clay pigeons shoot out at random angles and if you wait too long, they get pretty far away to hit. And, if they shoot sideways they move sideways very quickly. You have to be on your toes to shoot them at all. I missed them all… all the time… without exception, I could not hit one. Each time you stand at the line you get 25 pulls and shots. I missed them all 100% of the time.
Everyone tried everything: stand this way, stand that way, stand up straight, lean over, lean in your right leg, lean on your left leg. Nothing mattered. I could not even hit one… ever. That was frustrating I can tell you. For the entire season I hit NOTHING at all. I created the highest possible handicap and still was at the bottom of the heap. After an entire season of missing it all, I happened to try something I had not tried before. I closed my left eye. Go figure why.
Then, I hit them all. I hit them 100% of the time… all of them… each time I went to the line I hit them all. I hit them so long as I kept my left eye shut.
Self Discipline and Self Control
I then went on to win all the awards they have for all categories. I had a huge handicap going into the final shoot and when I consistently hit them all at season’s end, I won hands-down all the awards. But the handicap actually did not matter when you consistently hit 100% of the target every time. That blows the handicap out of being functional.
Most of the other members were highly suspicious of my intentions. They thought I was gaming the whole thing. Consistently miss, run up my handicap and then last day of the season, hit them all and win all the awards.
I was not gaming the game at all. I just kept my left eye closed all the time I was shooting on the last day out of sheer chance. I discovered something.
Later, as I pondered this, I realized that I am right handed and left eyed. My left eye is dominant in the same way that my right hand is dominant. But, when holding a shot gun with my right hand and sighting down the barrel with my right eye, with both eyes open, I was actually sighting down the far-site-nip at the end of the barrel of the gun with my left eye. Consequently, I was miss aiming the gun ALL THE TIME because I was actually sighting with my left eye. No wonder I missed ALL the shots with both eyes open and hit them all with my left eye closed.
I suspect this is one of those side “benefits” of dyslexia.
I mention this because everyone kept telling me to “concentrate”, to “aim and breathe”, and to “focus”, and to “exert self discipline”, etc. Everyone saw it as a self-mastery, or self-discipline problem. I was just not applying myself. They had no other explanation for missing ALL the shots except that I was just not applying myself and lacked self-discipline… somehow. If you have read some of my other articles, that “lack of self-discipline” thing was a normal place that most people would go when they had no other explanation and their advice did not work… make me wrong.
I then put two and two together and realized: “Now I know why I could never catch a ball as a kid. I could not catch a baseball, not a football, not a soccer ball… nothing. And, thanks to the kids being so helpful, they added to the misery with all sorts of name-calling about my totally-missing sports skills.
I mention this Leap Learning Event because it illustrates something important. Self Discipline actually is non-operative. By that I mean:
Here I am standing at the line, gun loaded. I have missed 100% of all attempts to hit a clay pigeon for the last 5 months. And, here I am standing at the line, gun loaded, waiting to yell "PULL!". Just exactly what does one do in this moment to exert the solution to the problem which is self discipline? What? Squeeze my butt? Grunt? Squint my eyes?... what??? Telling someone that the solution to this event lies in self discipline is really saying: "I have no idea what you should do...!!!" Instead of just saying that, the push toward self discipline is a code word for: "You Are At Fault! and I Have No Idea How To Fix It Either." Note the blame shifting.
“So, now I know why I hate sports…!!!”
Note the three things operating here:
- the dyslexia mismatch of eye-hand-coordination – simple enough to deal with IF you know it,
- the frustration of those around me to deal with it, their falling back to behavior cliches, and
- the judgment that I was not applying myself, that I lacked self-discipline, etc., blame shifting.
Number 1) is a fuss but I could deal with it when I knew what it was – close my left eye when shooting or attempting to catch a ball and this worked… really worked very well. Note here that the dyslectic symptom was easily compensate-able if identified. It created a “problem” that actually had a simple corrective solution. And, the solution had nothing to do with self discipline whatsoever.
Number 2) as I had indicated in an earlier post, how those around a person with dyslexia behave is actually most of the problem. It was THEIR frustration that brought forth the "self discipline" worn out, long overused, and incorrect automatic response.
The opinions of those around me were pretty much wrong, in this case, in that there was a perfectly good reason for not shooting/catching and it had NOTHING to do with self-discipline, self-focus, self-control at all. And, none of the grown ups ever resorted to any form of thinking outside the box at all.
And finally, Number 3) this is the affect they had on me because of their insistence on their point of view coupled with super-duper put-downs and judgments about me personally.
You can see how the crowd enforces its control over individuals.
And, how wonderful it all turned out to be. I skipped the whole sports-derangement-syndrome and went on to watch Warner Bros. cartoons instead.
I am Ok with this now. I have also said judgmental things to people that were wrong and hurtful. That is not my point in this story. I want to point out the LEAP in understanding that ultimately took place. The understanding replaced all negative judgments for me (well, sports related ones.) And, I will live with what I now consider to be a virtue in that I still hate sports and I am free to watch something else on TV instead of sports. I think that is a good thing.
I now seek out how dyslexia functions and regard its functioning as a virtue and benefit. I never had any difficulty with it EXCEPT the stuff I got from others about how un-disciplined, un-focused, un-self-controlled I was.
Ah, vindication, when it comes, tardily in life, still is sweet.
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