End of Week 1
whatever….I didn’t write yesterday. Are the dreams of a novel over? Has the fad excitement ended? I haven’t heard from my editor at all. Is that part of the strategy? Ignore your protégé and let them stew a little?
I was with the family most of the day yesterday at the cottage and the writing bug never took over. It was overcast and rainy the entire day. Sun poked through in the morning once or twice but that was it. I hit the driving range early in the afternoon before the rain started. Swing progressing further. Videotaped in slow mode my swing and positioning and realized I’m not leaning over enough. Slap shot swing has gotten me to where I need to be now so I can almost get away without doing it anymore. Now my back is 45 degrees or so. The full swing motion of hips, shoulders, arms is almost natural. Whoa! Don’t push it! I have realized, again, the slow patient process that it is.
The family is almost sick of hearing me talk about golf now. Well Jake is definitely sick of it. Carolyn remains very supportive as always. She’s amazing. I’m a jerk...oops slipped into psycho analysis, what’s really wrong with me mode. NOT ready to open up that much yet. That's for another time.
We spent time yesterday watching some tv, playing games and watching the 2020 Olympics (in July 2021, thanks Covid). Speaking of genes, and nature vs. nurture. Is there any worse thing than to be given the gift of the skills of an Olympic sport? Seriously. Sure you compete at other events throughout the year but the once every 4 year Olympics seems to be the highlight. And it would appear 99% of the competitors really don’t have a shot. There is always that one elite person out there that is expected to and almost always does win. Michael Phelps. Simone Biles. Unless you are that guy or girl what good is it that you're half a second worse. Where does all that training, time and money get you? Some may get some sponsorship but you're not signing million dollar contracts if you come in 4th place, maybe even 3rd.
Back to golf, not really, just kidding. Okay quickly, they actually had golf in the Olympics! Okay that’s it. And Rory McIlroy has great triceps. I can knock out quite a few dips in a row but the triceps never seem to grow.
Another day at the cottage with the gang and 70% chance or more of rain ALL DAY LONG. It has been a rainy summer although interestingly not on Wednesdays when we play golf! The dream was meant to be. Seniors Tour for sure. Korn Ferry. Mackenzie?
So a good test of my ability to not be a jerk...damn, back into analysis mode. Okay, briefly. I can be a jerk, too intense, Djokovic like. The announcers were recently saying they wondered why Djokovic doesn’t feel the love. Really? He’s an intense guy. Intense guys don’t get the love. Simple as that. Okay, here is how I know. My wife has been too nice or maybe afraid to tell me, or maybe she has and I didn’t buy in or believe her or just wrote it off. 3 or 4 years ago we were playing Viking Chess (google it). Strange combination of I’m not sure what. I`m my usual competitive, intense self. Although it should be said I never knew this was a problem. So anyways I`m trash talking my son on the other team throughout. (Okay maybe trash talking your son at a fun cottage game should have been a signal!) And don’t get me wrong, I am very competitive, too competitive. I'm not ever winning Wimbledon or The Masters. It’s local games with family and friends. Beer league hockey. Cottage volleyball. It is perhaps an ego thing. Must win. Must prove one’s self. Must get applause, praise, recognition, acclaim...okay maybe just a smile or two. Support! Parental acknowledgement. Anyway the game ends and we cross towards the middle of the court to shake hands and one of my competitors, a young 20 something, a friend of one of our neighbours, looks me straight in the eye, doesn’t shake my hand (pre-covid) and says
“You’re an asshole”.
And walks away.
Well not right away. I never said I was entirely quick on the uptake on things. Quick uptake gene not installed. It took some time. Think about it. You’re a certain ‘way’ that you are completely unaware of. In fact you think you are amazing, well not completely but close enough. After all life is good, you have friends, family, and some success. A beautiful wife. Great kids. Then boom. You’re an…
I actually wish I could remember who she was. I’d like to thank her. Although I am missing a key point. She was drunk. She spoke honestly and likely wouldn’t have said anything had she been sober.
Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t an immediate catharsis. It was a life changing moment but not right away. When you have an ego and a certain amount of greatness (ego still present) someone saying that will shock you but it won’t shock you immediately into changing or even thinking about changing. But it did start the process. Besides being a great story to tell to my family it began a slow chipping away of the ego. Questioning and reflection.
I’d be lying if I could tell you in a chronological order how it went about. And I'd be lying if I said the process was complete. But it has changed me for sure. Intensity is down. Compassion up. (Wife laughs here). I wasn’t given the gene of compassion, or understanding, or sympathy. They continue to be worked on. In the middle of a conversation where I might be saying ‘oh, that’s too bad, I get that’. Deep inside a voice is saying ‘man up’! But like golf, self improvement takes time. Small, incremental steps. Each building on the other. Never to arrive anywhere but continue to grow. And have setbacks.
I took tai-chi once informally through a co-worker at Manulife. They had a fitness centre. My wife and I would go every morning before work and before kids. Anyways Eric, of Chinese descent I believe, knew Tai Chi so we would spend time in the mornings in the aerobic room going through Tai Chi. I don’t know if it lasted days, weeks or months. But at one point he said to me, like any wise old sage, living in the mountains of China, or Tibet or Nepal. Each day you do something, in this case Tai Chi, it isn’t a major change, but it is like adding a single piece of tissue paper to a pile every day. Each day is barely anything but after a while you suddenly have a book! That’s pretty good, you can’t make that stuff up. And I guess my piece of tissue paper with this ‘book’ is 750 words a day.
Anyways my anti-asshole, piece of tissue paper a day process is also a slow process by definition. Not to be overly dramatic but yes, a valuable lesson learned on that summer day some years ago, from a now unknown stranger. Okay, overly dramatic but really, a big moment!