Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘masters’

Your “Who” Is More Important: Masters Sunday musings

Master’s Sunday is the day I think I miss my Dad the most. We’d be on the phone dissecting the action, second guessing each decision and reminiscing about our respective visits to Augusta National (sadly, neither one of us ever played there.). In many ways the game of golf was the tie that bound my Dad to my brother and me. In Jr. High School he invited us into his world; we did whatever it took to stay there.

The older I get the more important my “who” becomes. Thinking about golf today has really brought this home for me. I walked away from golf 9 years ago because I couldn’t stand to be average, let alone not very good. Doing so put way, WAY too much emphasis on the “what”, on the golf itself. It was entirely reasonable for me to take a break from golf after my injury because it literally hurt to swing a club. But 9 years?

Let me be really clear: I don’t miss the game of golf. I played in high school and a bit in college, and I’ve played literally thousands of rounds on some of the most famous courses in America. The game of golf doesn’t owe me anything at all. What I do miss, though, is being in the company of other people (mostly men, I’ll admit) who are doing something that makes them happy. More than that, since you almost always get to choose who you’re playing with, you are always in good company.

It’s been a wonderful day to remember that “who” is so much more important than “what”. I am part of a bunch of middle-aged knuckle-heads who met as fathers of pre-schoolers and then bonded on some of the most God-forsaken dogpatch golf courses imaginable. No matter. We were together. We celebrated the 60th birthday of one of our pals at breakfast where my guys regaled me with side-splitting tales of this year’s golf trip to South Carolina. If they’ll have me, next year my “new game” is likely to produce a few follies that we can laugh about during a breakfast to come.

My brother is an extraordinary golfer, as is my best friend of 40 years. My sister’s husband, too. My son will eventually become a very good golfer; his pride will accept nothing less. Lil’bingo and “Lovely Daughter’s” husband are both eager to play as well. My game will sadly fail to match up, but that’s no matter. How I play is a “what”. It always was, even though it took me an awfully long time to figure that out. What I now hope to get, and what I hope to give each time I get a chance, is to be part of a group that understands that the “what” they are doing is so much less important the “who” that they are doing it with. All of these men have asked me many times to join them, and this year I will finally do just that.

Golf, CrossFit, Cards…whatever. “Who” is the reason you are there.


The Sands of Time

The world, life, has always seemed to me to be as an hourglass, the tiny individual grains of sand appearing at the mouth of the funnel from nowhere. The top is empty, after all, else we’d know to the grain how long our lives.

So there, just above the narrow tunnel between “to be” and “been” appears a moment, on its way to becoming a memory, in that fleeting time of “now”. From there it falls through to join other moments come and gone. These we can see, of course, as they fill the bottom of the hourglass. Shake the glass and they come into view.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that my hourglass was nearly empty? So few grains of time that the bottom was barely dusted? Isn’t that my Mom and Dad right there in that huge Chevy wagon? Man, it’s PACKED with beach stuff. There I am in the “way-back” sitting on top of the chairs and towels. 4 kids in the car; we can’t sit together, of course, because someone might touch someone else! They were so big, my folks, they filled up the horizon. So small now…so fragile…shadows that flit in and out of view.

There’s a goldfinch feeder just outside our window. This morning 6 finches crowded around, a vision of bright yellow, a first for us in our new house. Goldfinches always make me think of my firstborn, Danny. Wasn’t it just last week when we stood, his shoulder to  my chest, atop that observatory, gazing at the display of aerial artistry as hawks and finches dazzled across the field? The bright, curly yellow hair is long shorn, now replaced by a bright red beard. My head is now at his shoulder, but the appearance of a Goldfinch at my breakfast nook still brings back that ever so soft, quiet exclamation: “I really love birds, Dad.”

My caboose, Randy, sang at his Baccalaureate, ready to graduate from High School. Beth and had just become Netty Empsters. How can that be? When did that grain of sand appear? Can we really be here already? Shake the glass just a little and there he is in his Spider Man jammies, the first day of football, “hey Dad, I’m taller than you!” They keep appearing at the mouth of the funnel, another and another and another grain as the sands of my time flow. Can it really be? Are we really here ALREADY? When I report for work at my “second job” at CrossFit Bingo I’ll begin by greeting my boss. Kid named Randy.

I know it was only last week. Had to be right? We stood there in the threshold, hand in hand. One more step and we’d be all the way there, all the way inside school and surely we’d make it to class on time. Longest step ever taken, but away we went, Megan and I. How could it be, then, that I was Facetiming her graduation ceremony from grad school, the proud recipient of a Masters Degree in Psychology? Yet there it is, a grain of sand scoots down the tassel and joins the rest of the milestones in the bottom of my glass.

The hourglass sits afore me, the sand flows. I see Randy as he looks toward me, looks as I fill his horizon. My gaze drifts toward my Mom and Dad; they are barely a rise in Randy’s sand. Grains appear for me, one after the other. I see behind, before, in the bottom of my hourglass. I stare at the funnel, stare as if I look hard enough the top of the hourglass will fill, I’ll see “to be”.

It’s not possible, of course, you know that. It’s so trite, so trivial, but no less true that the sands pour through more swiftly than we can follow. The less we attend to them the faster they pour. The less attention we pay the harder it is to see them as they settle in the bottom of the glass; we miss them as they pass and then can’t find them as they settle among the other grains of our time. To find them in the bottom of the hourglass we must see them as they pass through the funnel from top to bottom, look right at them lest they be nothing more than shadows.

Where did they all go, those grains, those sands of my time? How many did I miss, shadows on my horizon?


It’s Masters Sunday; I Want One More Round

It’s Masters weekend in the golf world. Today, for one day of the year, I will allow myself to want.

You see, golf, like baseball and other games, is woven into the fabric of certain families. Taught either game by our fathers, we are filled with memories of times spent in and around our game. Mileposts are tagged with golf-related markers for the men in my family. Some are from outings of our own, and some from trips to watch others play. Most simply revolve around the simple act of watching a tournament together on TV. Fortunate are those who have something like this.

My Dad was very generous with his sons when it came to golf (one sister took up the game after she grew up and got married). Generous with access (club, equipment) and generous with his time. The golf course was the one place where we knew he’d be OK with us. Oh sure, our shenanigans and occasional tantrums provoked every bit of his Dickensonian parenting style, but still, the golf course was where we eventually bonded as 3 adult men. Joined by my sister’s husband we made up a very special foursome, indeed. We 3 younger men repaid my Dad for his generosity by taking him on epic golfing boondoggles, and by sharing that space in front of the TV as often as we could.

What does this have to do with ‘want’, you wonder. Alas, no one needs to play golf, save perhaps for a few hundred pros of course. Over the years our family foursome was buffeted by the economic winds of life, just like all other families, but we were able to sail through and continue our odyssey. We all wanted to play, and our respective families wanted it for us, too. In time, at least for two of us, our bodies failed and what it would take to play impinged on true family needs. Worse, my Dad’s mind has failed him as well, and the memories that tie this story together are as lost to him as the proverbial duck hook into the woods.

There, in a nutshell, lies the ‘want’. I’ve long since lost the desire to play golf, and I can honestly say that I do not miss the game itself. I’ve played thousands of rounds; I’ve had a good run. The game of golf owes me nothing. No, it’s not the act of playing that I miss, the physical aspect of the challenge that I allow myself to want on this one day. What I want, of course, is one more round with my Dad, my brother Randy, and my brother-in-law Steve.

On this one day I allow myself to want the surgery that would return me to the game regardless of all the needs that would suffer because of it. Just for one day. I pretend. I imagine the joy on Steve’s face as he shoots even par on the the back nine of the hardest course we ever played together, winning the family grudge match. I can see the evil grin on Randy’s face as he gets deeper and deeper under my skin and beats me for the 1000th consecutive time, his game as flawless as ever. I hear my Dad cackle as he drops yet another long birdie putt on top of one I’d just sunk, sure that I’d beaten him this time, cringing at the thought of him telling and retelling the story for years to come.

In the end that would be enough, I think. When I call my Dad late today and we “watch” the back nine of the Masters together it would be enough to know that he remembers. We’ll talk about our adventures with Randy and Steve, and we’ll pretend that he remembers those times when we marked our journey by the exploits of the golfers on TV. Jack’s putt on 15. Tiger’s improbable chip in on 16. Ben sobbing on the 18th. Pretend that he remembers laughing at me after dropping that putt on top of mine, that one fine day when all we wanted was to play golf together.

Today…just today…club in hand, phone to ear…I will want.