When given the opportunity to play in uncharted territory, what do we do? Take the chance and jump in feet first and play from a place of trust, or let fear knock us down and send us running for cover? Seems I've been asking these questions a lot these days.
I admit I have been playing in uncharted territory lately. I made a decision, an agreement with myself, to say "yes" to life and to watch what came towards me. So now I find myself co-creating a book about golf, and frankly, I have never played the game. Not only have I never played, but golf has been so far off my radar that I admit it is like trying to speak a foreign language without knowing a word. I'm sure all the serious golfers out there are recoiling in their own version of horror, at this almost sacrilegious confession. But I am here to tell you that it is working. I'm writing a book about golf and I have never played the game. Of golf that is. I know nothing, yet somehow I know everything.
I'll admit to one memorable experience on a golf course, back in my music business days. We were playing at a chic country club who offered us unlimited access to their pristine 18-hole golf course, which meandered lazily through lush forests. On the second hole, somewhere on the fairway, a baby bear cub ran out of the woods and plopped itself down in front of me and stared me directly in the eyes. Baby bear cub won this round, and we ran for the club house as he ran back into the woods to find his momma. That's it, my sole experience with the game.
Seems everyone I know, has a story, a passion or some history with golf. In the early 60s when my dad was still alive, he played golf and was an avid Arnold Palmer fan. This I remember, but anything else about golf didn't take hold.
So, yes I'm writing this book with a man who doesn't write, but does play serious golf. Very serious golf. Through him and his experiences, I am finding my way around the course. Although all sport is a metaphor for life, it seems golf is the most profound of all. It's the only sport that pits you against the most daunting of opponents... yourself. It is you, yourself and the elements. It's the only game that can never be won. But golfers keep trying and in doing this, they are offered the opportunity to get to know themselves, just a little bit better.
I'd made a decision early on, not to read or consciously study or research anything at all to do with golf. Whatever comes at me through synchronicity, or coincidence or serendipitous events, would be all I needed. I know that "coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous," as Albert Einstein said.
As an artist, a writer and creator, I like to follow my intuition, my instinct and in the words of a great inspiration to me, Steven Pressfield from his book Do The Work, I "trust the soup." I like to believe that I have let go and I'm working from a place of trust in the divine source, a faith in the unknown, the unseen. To describe what is happening as magical and mysterious would be an understatement. It is truly amazing how not knowing what I don't know about golf, has become an absolute positive.
I always have lots of questions, maybe some don't have answers. How is it that six-year-old Reagan Kennedy can shoot a hole in one and not even know how incredible a feat this is. Is it luck? Is it talent? She's only been playing since she was two. Or is it her destiny? Maybe it's all of those things and more.
And then you have 42-year-old Darren Clark, Northern Ireland's everyman golfer, who emerged from his own human imperfections and personal tragedy to triumph at this year's British Open. The hero's journey: after 20 tries, he found his glory and lived his greatness. He was definitely the player that the onlookers were pulling for. So, was this his persistence, coupled with talent? Or was it his destiny? I'd like to offer the possibility that this is a part of the grand mystery, the unexplainable part of why some succeed against seemingly impossible odds and others buckle and never find the way to their own greatness.
For me, this is one of the powerful life lessons of golf. You are never too young or too old to find your greatness. It is simply about stepping in with a willingness to play the game, knowing that it is a game that can't be won. Yes it is about talent, practice, commitment, patience and luck, but most of all I believe it is about some unknown, which I like to call some unseen magical force. In fact, it is about different things for different people.
I remember how the golf hero in the filmThe Legend of Bagger Vance, Rannulph Junuh, had given up because he had "lost his swing." His muse, in the form of Bagger Vance, says it most eloquently: "...inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing. Somethin' we was born with. Somethin' that can't be taught to ya or learned. Somethin' that got to be remembered".
Thank you Bagger Vance and Steven Pressfield, Reagan Kennedy and Darren Clarke. All of us have an authentic swing, our soul's calling, in my words. Without recognition of it, sometimes we lose our way. I also thank my muses both here on earth and those who are orchestrating and conspiring with me on all my projects, from somewhere unseen and unknown.
I believe I have remembered my authentic swing. I've always known it, I found it a long time ago, but did not always honour it and let it guide me. It is simply to write and share ideas and hopefully some days provoke and inspire too. I can tell you that once you remember it, life flows. There is some magical unknown, keeping me in awe, filling me with passion and the desire to keep doing my work.
I'll repeat another thought about golf in the words of Bagger Vance: "I'm talkin' about a game....a game that can't be won, only played."
And that is the ultimate life lesson, isn't it? It isn't about winning, it is about showing up and playing and doing what you are here to do. You aren't really in the game if you don't show up and play. Being the best you can be and continuing to swing your authentic swing. Everything else is like the elusive hole in one.
Are you ready? I sincerely hope all of you somehow, someday remember your own authentic swing. Love to hear where your authentic swing has taken you in golf or in life.