I am blessed with an energy that invites others to confide in me. I know that my natural state, the one when I feel grounded and connected, is one of receptivity. I unknowingly convey to others that it’s safe to reach out to me. I’m the one, even when lost in a strange city, who gets stopped and desperately asked for directions. I am empathetic and friendly as we wander – lost, together.
At this age and stage of my life I have far fewer secrets than I used to. I know the power of sharing, shedding light on the dark truth. I have also learned to listen, to hold precious the trust of others, to know what is my story, and what is theirs. I am humbled to be the repository of others’ confidences and private dialogues. According to Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living. As I keep my mind open and my mouth shut, I witness and ponder. Sometimes I hear a victim. Sometimes I hear anger. Sometimes I hear shame. I always hear fear. Any other emotion is the overlay of a primal fear – whatever it may be. Mine is rooted in inferiority – I don’t matter, not good enough . . .
I have taken up the game of golf as a social activity that suits the pandemic restrictions and my guidelines for leisure. As I stand over the precisely dappled white ball, club in hand, I vacillate between a checklist of instructions for the perfect hit and my favourite line from the movie Tin Cup. Just hit the damn ball Roy. Usually, after completing the checklist my ball strike is either on the top or at the end of my clubface. A searing worm burner along the grass to a pathetically close stop not far from where I am standing. Or a random low shank into the woods. The milkweed and brambles create an impenetrable netting over the landing spot. Another ball lost.
The language of golf is not dissimilar to that used in life lessons. In golf, you take a mighty swing off the tee, one that you have practiced and put your whole self into. As you release your backswing and gaze out onto the fairway you can’t seem to locate the shot. Looking down, the ball is glaring back up at you from its perch. The golf term for such an event is a FISH – f**k it’s still here. In life, when I find myself repeating the same mistakes, I frequently opine – f*ck I’m still here?
My friend and fellow golfer taught me humility and acceptance as a beginner player. My vision of a long and straight shot into the air and onto the green rarely materializes. Instead, my club connects with the ball so that it travels low in the air in the wrong direction, lands, catches a lucky bounce and rolls to stop more or less where I had hoped. She calls this a FABIO – f**ing awful, but it’s ok. I don’t recommend it as a golf shot. As an antidote to perfectionism it works. As a salve for a bruised ego it works. As a diversion from intensity to humour, it works.
Each club in my bag has a sweet spot. That’s the smooth, unlined centre of the angled clubface. It’s the space that’s supposed to make contact with the ball for a successful shot. It’s the space that offers the perfect speed and trajectory for the ball. Connecting with that space takes me where I want to go. I’m wondering if Socrates is encouraging us to examine our lives so that we might find the sweet spot? I’m wondering if by listening and supporting each other we are lead to the sweet spot? I know that by loosening my grip, abandoning my checklists, and taking a deep breath, I am more likely to find the sweet spot. I am engaged rather than obsessed. That differential is a sweet spot for me.
At least, that has been my experience.