Darts can teach you a lot about yourself and reality

The dart board of Matt RougeI first really played darts in 1999 when I was interning at Schering-Plough and spending a lot of time in Brooklyn with my best friend Tom. Thereafter, I didn’t play until 2006, when I joined the Columbia Club in Indianapolis. That got me back into it. I bought a dart board in early 2007, which entertained me a bit when I was snowed in, but I lost interest and didn’t play again until late August of this year, when I drove to New York to hang out with Tom, who now has very cool pad in Manhattan.

I think I’m hooked on darts for good this time.

Darts is a great way to meditate. It’s all about you, your mental state, your skill, and your relationship to physical reality. In other words, it’s just “you” and “not-you.” Whether “you” and “not-you” are in harmony or disharmony is up to you–and not-you.

Why did you let yourself hit the target this time and not that other time? Does “zoning out” allow you to hit the target better? Or are you just aimlessly firing and taking what comes? Do concentration and careful, conscious aiming help you hit the target? Or does focusing too much produce the opposite result? Why does a certain mental state help you sometimes and not others?

These are the questions you might ask yourself, and often answers come to you.

One thing I have explored through playing darts is how the self allows the self to succeed or not succeed. Practice certainly has the effect of honing actual skills like aiming and throwing, but the negotiation the self engages in with reality (not-self) while practicing is extremely interesting to observe.

Self: “Is it okay for me to hit the bullseye this time?”

Reality: “I’m not sure. You’re really quite inconsistent. You need to prove to yourself and me that you can hit it so many times in so many throws. Let’s work up to it a bit.”

Self: “But I’ve got mojo this time. I can feel a kind of electric charge on the board; it’s going to suck the dart right into the bullseye.”

Reality: “Okay, I know how that feels, and I can accept that. But on the throw after that, as a kind of recompense for success, you’re going to throw wild. Can you live with that?”

Self: “Yeah. I guess.”

Reality: “Go for it then.”

Thunk. Bullseye. So much in life works this way.

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