I have one goal this summer.
To break 90.
That’s right. I’m talking about golf.
Now before you roll your eyes, write me off, and brand me as an elite- please keep in mind that I am talking about the public course near my parents' house where nine holes of golf is roughly the same price as a Four Piece Finger Meal from Zaxby’s. Full disclosure- due to my current breathing situation, we do have to take a cart. So throw on a cookie and a couple of boneless wings and that gets you nine holes and a cart at Pebble Creek. Where they put the Country in Country Club.
For the first 40 years of my life, my relationship with golf can be described as passive at best. I had lots of potential, but the bug never bit me. The kids who played in my neighborhood were kids I didn’t really like. Rich, preppy, rednecks would be the best way to describe them. Besides, I always had rehearsals and plays and concerts. And the girls in my theatre classes were way more attractive than the rich, preppy, rednecks chewing dip and hanging around the pro shop.
My father is obsessed with golf. And despite my mother’s hostility, he’s managed to play basically every day for the past 50 years. When I was younger she used to say that, “Golf is a four letter word.” Come to think of it, she says it now too. I used to think that phrase was simply illustrating her prowess at counting. Now I know she’s equating it to other four letter words such as fuck or shit or damn.
Yet over the past two months, my passive relationship has started to change. I’ve started playing golf almost every week. I’ve been joining my father at the driving range, hitting balls until I get too winded and have to stop.
So why now? Why at the beginning of my third round of chemotherapy does golf seem like a good and proper use of my time?
This past Saturday morning I chatting with my friend Beth. We said good bye and I headed to my car. All of a sudden she was at my window and threw a book on tape in the front passenger seat. Fine it was a book on CD but that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. What is it about those four letter words?
It was a book by a Eckhart Tolle. I popped it in and for the past four days I’ve been having my mind blown in three to four mile increments.
The first few chapters have been about the ego. About how the ego thrives on attachment with form. The real You is not your ego. It’s not the thoughts and stories your ego is spinning. It’s the awareness of the thought. The awareness of the ego. When you begin to become aware of the ego, the ego slips away. I shared these insights with my high school students yesterday. “I am not crazy,” I assured them, “it’s simply my ego attaching itself to the way you all are looking at me.” They continued looking at me like I had three heads, so I let them go work on their final projects.
On the way to the grocery store yesterday, the book got super deep. Toole said that, “In the Now, in the absence of time, all your problems dissolve.”
“Suffering needs time; it cannot survive in the Now.”
I flipped my turn signal on and pulled into the Publix.
I was gob smacked. That is why I’ve been so obsessed with golf. Because for two hours, all I think about is the hole at hand. The sun on my back. How much the fumes from the cart annoy me. How I'm mad at the chip I shanked, or pumped by the drive I rocked. I’m excited about the water stations with the paper cone cups. I roll my eyes at my 70 year old father for saying he’s not playing great after hitting a 270 yard tee-shot. There’s no before or after. There’s just the now. Which is all that is. Which is all that was. Which is all there ever will be.
Of course this could all change next week. In six days I might be blogging about the spirituality of bowling. Or the mindfulness of corn hole. I suppose that's ok too. What gets you in the present moment? Knitting? Ultimate Fighting? Jaimie's dad goes into the backyard and forges knives in the Savannah heat. If you're reading this and don't have something that gets you in the moment, go out looking. It might be worth the price of a Four Piece Finger Meal to discover it.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it please share with your friends. Also-considered becoming a Patreon. Find out more at patreon.com/davidleenelson