“Do something every day that takes you outside of your comfort zone.” I’ve heard this many times and I make an effort to abide by the advice. One day I went to play golf with the “big girls.” These are the ladies who play golf often and for the most part, quite well. I was way outside of my comfort zone.
“It’s just a game”, I’ve been told. I have never considered myself a golfer but I have played golf for over forty years, ever since I married my husband, Sandy. Sandy is a golfer. He’s amazing to watch. Even at an age when most men can’t hit the ball as far as they’d like, he belts it way down the fairway. Truly, his game is superb and it's such fun to watch him play.
I use to resent his dedication to this past time. I know I’ve mentioned this before. When I had three young children, the time away from the family required by golf and desired by my husband was onerous for me. But, now with the children grown and on their own, I can see the sport in a different light. Actually, over the last few summers, I might even occasionally refer to myself as a “golfer.”
Golf, yoga, and tennis are the three main physical activities in which I’ve participated. I think there’s so much to learn about myself and sometimes others from watching the behavior that is exhibited during the event, the match, the practice. Concentration, perseverance, balance, forgiveness, humor, humility and graciousness are required of the civil player and many times, more than one aspect at a time is required.
When I went to play golf with the better players, I actually requested a “kind and gentle group.” Since my handicap of 45 can easily be viewed by real golfers as representative of someone who is a duffer, very inexperienced, I was quite concerned with whom I was partnered. I was put with another woman who was kind and gracious, a very pleasant, encouraging woman. She and I, along with two others made up the foursome.
When I participated in an Outward Bound in 2002, we had an exercise where we needed to figure out a way to get ten people through a complicated ropes course. I stood back and watched. Almost everyone had a plan, even those who had never done this before. I decided to let the “experts” figure it out and then join in. I realized through this exercise that I didn’t always need to be a chief. I could also be an Indian. It was very liberating. I didn’t need to or want to be in charge. I can be in charge if necessary but it wasn’t necessary and there was freedom in that. This knowledge has served me well over the years.
As soon as the women began playing golf on the day of my golf adventure, it was obvious who the chief was. She was a good chief. She knew the rules, she led by example, she knew the etiquette and she generously helped those of us who needed extra guidance. It helped the day go smoothly and it was pleasant.
Yes, I thought, playing golf is like a microcosm of life. Isn’t it true, every time you enter into a group situation, there’s someone who steps up to be in charge? Of course, sometimes more than one person wants to lead but even then, someone comes out being the chief; the others must follow, support or get out of the way.
The psychology of 18 holes of golf is again a microcosm of our lives. How do we interact with others? Are we kind, considerate, deferential, polite, encouraging? And, how do we treat ourselves? Do we berate ourselves when we hit a bad shot? Are we annoyed when someone else does better? Can we focus regardless of what else is going on? What are we thinking about; is it lunch or dinner, or are we present to the experience? Do we notice not only the condition of the course but the topography, the fresh air and the beautiful vistas?
Whatever we are doing on the golf course, we are repeating in our daily lives. Our behavior both towards others, ourselves and the experience reflects our behavior and attitude about our lives.
Yes, it’s the same in many sports. Golf is different because there is so much time between each shot. It’s slower; it takes longer than many sports. If you watch carefully, you’ll see all your faults surface but keep watching, be aware, and you’ll be able to notice your strengths too. Perhaps, it will be as simple as being able to share time with your loved ones, your buddies, a kind partner and when asked how you played, even if the game didn’t go as you had hoped, even though you didn’t feel you played your best game, you answer, “Wow! I had a great time!”
Yes, just like life. When my life is almost over, if it hasn’t’ gone the way I’d hoped, if I haven’t played my “best” game, I hope I find myself saying, “Wow! I had a great time!”
And, just in case you’re curious, I played ok on that outing with the “big girls.” I would even say, on that day, I looked like a “golfer.”