You know I haven’t blogged for a while when I get going on pretentious titles. #selfentertainment
I always played sport. And I was always decent at what I did. As a Christian Afrikaner male, sport has always been a type of valid pathway to release the competitor in my self. A legitimate arena to compete, fight, aspire and perform.
That all became tricky when I decided to learn to play football in my 20’s. Suddenly I was useless; an uncertain teenager seeking the approval of peers, battling away to prove to others and myself that I can be a worthy member of a worthy tribe. Eventually I wasn’t picked last and that is good enough I guess, at my age.
No sooner has the sun set on my journey of football based humiliation and I decided to start playing golf: as a 37 year old. I thought I took up a sport or hobby. Erroneously. What I did was to enrol in an advance class of Tibetan Buddhist, Islamic Jihad, Christian Martyrdom as pathway to self-denial and ego torture. For every shot that flies and lands well there are five that mock and torment. Golf bites. And there is quantitative measures to underline every sense of disguised frustration and failure. Sometimes I play better than other times. But I don’t know why. What I know is the harder I try the worse I do it. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak! Practice shot: perfect. Actual shot and every atom between my ears conspire to try to hard and in anxious expectancy and fearful tension I connect the ball to high, too low, to closed or too open; a result multiplied by every meter of flight. I crack under pressure. In golf I don’t know how to fight it. I don’t know how to give up control. Golf is perhaps a technical form of dancing. Letting the ‘swing’ take over and relinquishing control is as hard on the dance floor as it is on the first tee. I tried prayer, I tried meditation, I tried jokes, I tried alcohol, I even tried talking to myself and breathing. Yet, the competitive little Schalk whispering devilish ambitions of perfection into my ear maintains a level of stress that stands between me and easy golf. Calling Ernie Els The Big Easy has new meaning these days. The paradoxes of golf makes it my number one reflection and mental war zone.
Taking a break from golf and the fine nuances of mental torture it entails I also like to go jogging. Like might be a strong word. I like being in the world where I just went for a jog. Running is so simple. You want to do better? Try harder. Go faster. Push you body. Burn your legs, burn your lungs. Compared to golf, it is braindead. A similarity it has with golf is that there are quantifiable measures. When I started jogging after my 6 month back injury I ran slow and it was torture. Gradually the times started to drop. As is testimony by my i-phone screenshots.
Running gives me an escape. A method to be a warrior.
Golf slaps me in the face and shows me how everything I’ve learnt can be as bad as it can be good.
In life we first need to learn to be runners. Staying fit, persevering, trying harder, sweating, getting fit. It activates the basics of a successful personality: strength and perseverance.
Golf brings the challenge of being and enjoying, getting to understand your emotions and inner workings.
Running comments on and scores my body.
Golf comments on and scores my mind and soul.
Naturally they are both training grounds for my real life, my vida real. The hidden stuff beneath the matrix.
Can I be strong and soft?
Can I be smart and silly?
Can I be focussed and relaxed?
Can I be cruel and controlled?
I used to read a lot for reflection. In the current season I’m in, I am allowing my body to speak to me and reveal nuance that a good book struggles to illuminate.
Craft vs Art… I often reflect on this. When does skill transform from excellence through repetition to excellence in freedom and beauty.
Do I craft my life or do I create my life?
Could freedom be the key to unlock beauty?
Freedom from what?
Now there’s a conversation starter!