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A Clear Shot, Day 69 (8 of 25)

April 23, 2010

Spreading myself a bit thinner than normal as of late, I have left my brain confounded, confused, and discombobulated.  Thankfully, no signs of my scattered brain showed during our service at Temple Emanu-El tonight, except that I once again had a hard time remembering names.  Networking in any field and especially entertainment and the arts comprises an enormous part of our ability to function, get hired, and enjoy our time working with our friends and colleagues.  I have always had a difficult time with this and find it necessary to to write names down, ask shamelessly when I forget, and occasionally browse through Facebook to reacquaint myself with colleagues I haven’t seen in a while.  Still, I forget.

Although I have no concrete solutions as of yet, I know I need to work on this aspect of my life and career and have no doubt that classes and lessons exist in the fountain of knowledge that is New York City and most certainly online.  While my friend helped me remember some names from the Temple Emanu-El choir tonight, I told her about the activity for tonight about which I was so excited: rifle shooting lessons with a group of friends.  Several people seemed intrigued and excited, and this friend in particular mentioned that she might like to own a gun someday and had always wanted to learn how to use one.  Although I personally have no current interest in owning a gun, I had always sensed learning how to fire a weapon might enhance my life in some way.  Little did I know it might also help to focus my wandering mind.

When my amazing friend Sarah invited me to join some friends at the Westside Rifle and Pistol Range for a group lesson, I jumped at the chance and having done it, have not one regret.  After a clear and patient presentation by our instructor, we loaded our own cartridges, donned our protective glasses and hearing protection and gave it a shot.

Surprisingly, I didn’t feel any anger, release, or other negative emotions that one might expect when learning to fire a weapon.  Instead, lining up the sights along the barrel of the gun, I felt a certain calm mindfulness I had been missing in the heyday of late.  I managed to fire accurately, getting 95% of my shots within the (somewhat large) bulls-eye, even after pushing myself well past thirty feet.

Leaving my friends to head home for the evening afterwards, I felt a little bigger and more mentally present with more confidence.  I have no qualms about recommending this to anyone who feels the need to focus in a hectic life or city, and I see many similarities between learning how to shoot a rifle and yoga, or any other similar activities that require a constant calm and minimal mental monologues.  Sometimes silencing the constant stream of thought, no matter what the endeavor, can place the mind in the right frame for whatever else one needs to accomplish, including sightreading in Hebrew or remembering names.

This weekend, I travel to my alma mater, the Maryland Opera Studio at the University of Maryland.  Having the great opportunity to both see old friends and network with new soon-to-be colleagues, I doubtless will have some cards to collect and names to recall.  I’ll add a new opera to my repertoire of knowledge on Sunday, further cluttering my brain as I prepare to finish learning the last pieces of my repertoire for next month’s concerts in Richland, Washington.   I may not have the means to visit the pistol range as often as I would like, but at least now I have another tool in my arsenal of activities to maintain a more focused and efficient mind and memory.  For now, off to pack for another adventure!

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