Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day. I was productive and creative, using my time for recreation as well as work; writing as well as golf. I enjoy these kinds of days the most.

I got up at 6 am which is quite early, even for me. I was the taxi service, so I was out the door at 6:20 to pick up Blake, who lives north, then we headed south to get Tom, who lives, not coincidentally, near the Riverside golf course. We had the first tee time of the day, at 7:30, and it was just barely light enough to see the balls we hit into the early morning mist.

I enjoy playing golf with Tom because he is so relaxed and calm, even when he's obviously upset with the results of his effort. Of course, he has his frustration with the game; we all do; it's why we play, but he doesn't allow it to poison his experience. Rather, I should say that I do not really know how he feels, but I do know what I feel when playing with him, and that is a sense of calm, very zen-like openness to the moment.

Would that I had that same inner-calm, even though it doesn't seem to favor low scores in golf, for it is the very reason I play the game. Although I was never serious about keeping score because I have never been good enough for it to really matter and I've always taken extra shots to get a feel for the right way to approach various situations, after Pierre's death, the relevance of the activity has been both questioned and affirmed. Now I know that it just doesn't matter, and I know that it really does.

Blake has a different attitude toward the sport and the game. He too has a relaxed attitude but for him, the game is more serious affair than it is for Tom or me. Blake is younger than us by almost thirty years, so he has some realistic hope of not only improving his game, but actually competing with other serious golfers. Now this hope is necessarily out of reach for both Tom and myself, as we cannot be called 'serious' or even 'golfers' for that matter. It is, I suspect, of some slight frustration to Blake that we do not take our stances, our swings, or even our scores into consideration when deciding if we are enjoying ourselves.

I know that Blake would like to change this dynamic if he could, for he is forever focused on the mechanics of the game, exhorting us to hold our wrists or to keep our left arms straight, our heads down and a whole host of similar 'swing thoughts' to which we always listen patiently but do not absorb because we can barely hit the ball at all, let alone hit it with any sort of certainty or, heaven forbid, accuracy. It helps, him, I think, to know that he is being a positive influence; a kind of coach that we would never seek out but whom we secretly need.

I cannot speak for Tom, but I do not have a secret need to be coached. I do, however, enjoy Blake's enthusiasm and energy. I have no doubt but that without his relentless effort to get me back out on the golf course after Pierre's death, I likely would not have played again. That would have been a shame, since there is nothing at which I am so bad as golf that I love so much as golf. Further, although my attitude toward the 'micro' aspect of the game on which Blake seems to focus is less than adequate to the task of improving my score, Blake and Tom and I all share the 'macro' view, which is that any time spent on the course is good, in that it is similar to an exercise in 'zen' meditation and is thus healthy for the mind and body.

It's a peculiar conclusion, I guess, because the sport is associated with so much more than this sort of pseudo-philosophy. Yet, I would bet that the notion that golf is like meditation is a common thought for many golfers. With each swing, we are really seeking to release ourselves from the requites of physics and play (hopefully:)with gravity. When I play golf, time and space and body are integrated in a way that is unique. I am lost to the world for four short hours. That's why it was good day.

Oh, and for the first time ever--which is hard to believe considering how many rounds of golf he's played in the past two years--Blake 'holed out' a shot from the fairway on a par five for an eagle! Talk about your zen!

1 comment:

valgal said...

maybe i should come along and put yet a different perspective to the scorekeeping/playing of golf - i think you are already familiar with it ;*