This article was published on February 20, 2020 as part of a series of articles written by Matt and is being re-published with his permission.
So. I hit a golf shot the other day. And I didn’t even celebrate. It was because I expected to hit that shot. It really was a beautiful shot though, an 8-iron, about 130 yards to the pin. And I landed it 3 feet from the cup.
A year ago, I never would have made that shot. I wouldn’t have even gotten lucky and made it. What changed? Lots and lots of practice and drills. Over and over. And taking the advice of my father-in-law as we played together and he would point out little things and tips he’d learned.
One of the quirky things about humanity, is that as humans grow and learn, the important things that we learn, are really nothing more than what others have learned before us. We just learn them for ourselves. While the knowledge is not new to humanity, it is new to our own humanity.
Kinda like a 130 yard shot to 3 feet from the cup. Lots of other people have learned how to do that. But it’s no less meaningful to me because THEY can, it means the same to me. Cause I learned how to do that. And I’m proud of that. I can’t do it every time, but I can do it enough of the time to make the game fun.
So. A need to rise. We have a need to rise above what we are. This is the process of humanity. As new-born babies, we don’t THINK about doing this, we just do it. We learn to crawl and then toddle and then walk and then run. We don’t analyze this process, we just execute it.
But something changes as we get older. The tasks we face become harder. We start asking ourselves questions like, “Is this worth the effort?” and “Why should I be better when others around me aren’t?” and sometimes we just don’t give a hoot anymore. Even worse, sometimes we feel like we’re not capable of it anymore.
Henry David Thoreau commented, in “Life in the Woods”, on a snake he saw in cold water of winter. The snake lay still, torpid.
That’s kinda like what mental health disorders do to a person. You kinda lay there(metaphorically speaking), unable to escape the endless do-loop driving you back to the symptoms, and your state never really changes. You are, like that snake, somewhat trapped in the disorders. You can flick your tail a little bit, but the core of what drives you, the disorders, stays the same, and what you’re doing really is just chasing your tail pointlessly.
But that pesky need to rise above the status quo kicks in. And so there’s a conflict, a conflict between the person you are, and the person you want to be. And while you may know the person you are, you have no idea about what the person you want to be is. Or what it should even look like.
Back to golf now. What has golf given me? An “exo-skeleton” as it were. An exo-skeleton I can overlay on to the golfer I am, and work to slowly rise to the golfer I want to be.
See, when you’re on a golf course, the course is in control. You have to adapt to it. You can’t magicaly push the fairway 50 yards to the right to accomodate your wide right hook. You have to learn to hit the ball straight. And you can’t take a shovel and widen the hole out, you have to learn to putt straight. The course is in control.
Exo-skeleton. See, golf gave me something I can aspire to. Like a kid wearing their dad’s boots, clomping around and pretending to be grown up like their dad. The funny thing is, that as I’ve aspired to get better at golf, some of those skills have risen up in other areas in my life.
So, that’s where I’m at. Rising. And I probably always will be, and that’s ok.