Taking my shots

Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Ahh Ahh! Ouch!!

Hey, that doesn’t really hurt at all!

I clearly remember a gang of cousins hanging around a little construction project in the driveway at my Uncle Stan’s farm in Rantoul Kansas, when I was about third-grade age. He was building something, maybe a rabbit hutch or a chicken coop. I remember it was a box-shaped thing, made of wood and wire netting.

He had a pneumatic staple gun. He was tacking the wire cloth to the wooden frames. While we were watching, he pointed the gun right at me and let ‘er rip!

Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Pppshhhhhttttt-tink!

I probably screamed, or almost cried. I was terrified I remember in that moment. “Ahh Ahh! Ouch!!” I might have exclaimed. I remember thinking I would look down and see blood, or we would have to go to the hospital to have the staples removed. I probably was even mad and shocked that my beloved uncle would do something as sinister as shooting his little nephew with that loud and dangerous staple gun!

Actually there was no pain at all when the staples hit me. I don’t think they even stuck to my naked chest. (His three step-sons and I had probably spent that day playing the pond) The staples did hit me, but literally almost nothing happened…

All my emotional reaction and shock, was for naught. Actually it was probably worth a good laugh to see my face reel back in horror, for that one split second 🙂

I thought about that moment, probably 25 years after it happened, this week. I remember mainly being disturbed, and confused with wonder…

See, before the moment that my uncle shot his little air-stapler at me, I was quite sure that his handheld tool was capable of blasting deadly force if aimed at a human… I was sure that pointing it in any direction but into the project’s wooden frame, was just plain dangerous and wrong. I was probably scared to even get near that air-gun, since it was an ‘adult’ tool and not for kids to be touching in any way shape or form. The moment that the jokester Uncle Stan, shot it at me, a whole world of preconceived ideas shattered as the little tinny staple bounced off of me and landed without a sound in the gravel below.

I expected a shot of lead from a .357 Mag, and instead it was a loosely tossed paperclip.


Throughout my life, I can recall times when paradigms have shifted for me. This little story is just one of many. It does however describe the same event occurring over and over. I have a concrete reinforced box in my brain about how a certain thing, or person or event, ‘should’ be. Then something comes along and completely obliterates that rock-solid mental construct instantly.

Interesting isn’t it. Something that can seem so absolutely true in one moment, can become absolutely false in the next. Maybe sometimes it doesn’t happen in a one-hundred-eighty-degree fashion. Sometimes the black or the white of our mind, can instantly transform to grey.

I guess it is a good thing, that I don’t still today, hold each and every idea dearly that my third-grade self did. I am sure that the evolution and the growth of each of our lives, requires us to step from one lily pad of knowledge and understanding to the next, leaving the old one behind.

I do however wonder, if the next new shift in my own consciousness is a lasting extended foundational concept for me to build on, or if it is fleeting as well?

I can get lost, experiencing one new epiphany after another. I can shed and release old idea after old idea, until eventually I have lost track of my bearings. I seem to swim in unchartered waters. Are there sharks there? Am I finally reaching shore again? Is the ‘forward’ progress even a projection at all? Maybe a backslide feels like momentum in the mental tide of the day.

We have a new little life coming to us soon. I know that we will want to impart ideas on the new fresh mind. We will probably want to instill caution and tease the baby’s curiosity. We will want this mini little person to think like we think. But is that a good thing?

I don’t know. I have forever been unfolding new versions of understanding since I entered this space we call Earth. I suppose our little one will too. Sometimes I decide that journey is treacherous and exhausting. I cringe and reel back, or lash out in anger, when confronted with these moments. I have heard though, that some individuals are energized and excited with the adventure of taking on challenges in life. Whether mental or spiritual or physical, there are those who love the thrill of pushing their own limits, finding new freedoms within the movement of transition itself.

Often I live the worm’s existence. Wanting to inch along, wanting to hide from sunshine, I want to creep unchanged through the same dirt today, as I did the day before.

Wish me luck, as I am continually shot at, and I continually cry out. I want to learn to love those moments. Finding the love and truth and fun of life, outside the ideas of what I have believed so far to be absolutely true. I want to know those thrills from the driver’s seat, and not the rumble seat. I hope too that by sharing these words, that someone out there can relate, and learn again, that our human experiences are more alike than they are different.

Maybe you too, thought that danger and death was at hand, and really it is not. Maybe there is a lighthearted joy behind it all. Maybe you will find a love that always wants to keep you and hold you and never let anything harm you, even when it seems to be happening all around. The love of Jesus Christ is like that. At least for now, that seems to be what I know.

With Love,


Aaron Nichols

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