Friday, May 7, 2010

Je suis comme je suis

I don't care if there was roll, and perhaps the wind direction could have been in my favor. A 200-yard drive is a 200-yard drive. And it was a pretty awesome drive...especially for me. After all, the longest and hardest LPGA drivers go the distance at around 270 yards (Michelle Wie and Lorena Ochoa).

More importantly, it wasn't just about the distance. When you make a good hit, in that moment when the club connects perfectly with the ball, it's like a magical spin of physics and chemistry coming together. You just know it. Then, as you complete the swing and look up towards the ball in flight and watch it land, the feeling is great literature. It is a feeling like no other.

So yeah, I'm going to celebrate that rare and immensely uplifting drive today. It was especially satisfying since I decided on a whim to play hooky from a series of assignments and deadline and hit the greens to soak up some sun (cue music).

Many of my friends do not understand my passion for golf.

Apart from the fact that I'm not great at the game (no handicap, or severely handicapped, depending on whether you're a golfer or non-golfer asking), most people can't understand how I can be as crazy about chasing a little white ball around the grass as I am about flowing with the breath on my yoga mat.

But the two really go hand-in-hand for me. The truth is, there are many things I love doing which make me feel truly happy from deep inside -- dancing, taking pictures, running, shooting hoops and sitting on a swing. Yoga and golf, though, are the two that really transformed my life, and taught me many of the life lessons that are intrinsic to my guiding principle of always going back to the basics.

And that was how I made that drive today. I didn't have much time except for a quick round on the 9-hole executive. So there was absolutely no pressure. I was also having fun because I got to go out on my own, unlike on a regular course where single players usually had to join a group of two or three. I usually play from the white tee (the men's tee-off) on the executive so that the par 3s would feel more like they would be on a regular course. There were only two longer holes, and this was one of the two. That was the only hole I would usually tee-off from red (the women's tee-off) just because the line was kinda weird from white, and there was very little fairway.

But for some strange reason, as I walked up to the tee box today, I just decided on a whim to take it from white. I couldn't explain why, but it just felt like the right thing to do. I wasn't worried about my ball landing in the rough instead of the fairway. I just walked up, teed up and took a nice, relaxed swing.

Then I saw the ball going...and going...and going. Holy cow, that looked pretty long, and right in the middle, down the straight and narrow too. I walked the few paces to the nearest marker on the ground and did a mental calculation of the distance. I had to do it twice, just to be sure.

That was the eighth hole. A little while later, when I was loading my bag into the car and changing out of my shoes, the lesson sunk one of those magical putts that does a little dance around the rim of the cup before plonking itself right in.

I believe that golf reflects life, and the lessons that are learned in golf can be applied to life...and vice versa. I play my best game when I don't feel the need to impress my worst critic -- myself. I have only been playing on my own in the last two years, and there wasn't a need to impress anyone else. I readily admit that I suck at the game to anyone, and I usually get paired with nice, sweet, elderly players who have been at this for 20 to 60 years. I have always been, and continue to be, my own worst golf, and in life. The more I tried to impress myself, the worse I played. The more I told myself I should be getting another 20 yards out of that club, the more stupid, embarrassing mistakes I would make. On the other hand, if I was relaxed, enjoying the moment, and had no expectations on the shots I should be making, I usually surprised I did today.

So, my biggest lesson in life (and golf) is really to let myself be. I'm sure, at some point, I will forget this again, and have to re-learn the lesson. That's just the way it is with the game (and life). And there are many more lessons I've learned, and will learn. For now, I will hold that *feeling* of the great shot, and this lesson, close to heart.

Je suis comme je suis.

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