Monday, October 5, 2009

The Potholes and the Pavement

Surprisingly the very thing that made him quick to respond was what made him slow and deliberate. He would often shake his head three or four times as if tic riddled and prisoner to his brains fallibility. But you would be wrong in that assumption. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs from the intellectual cabinets in his brain. Always analyzing and then directing action to thought, he did not walk fast it was always slow and deliberate. Not tall in stature, or short in others’ presence, he willed his being to the environs. A gentleman by any standards of antiquity or the modern era, he was well spoken and spoke well when spoken with.

What was inspiring was the ability to drown out everything and anyone around him when he addressed the little white golf ball. Suddenly the pockmarked white ball weighing no more than 1.62 ounces and standing 1.68 inches became the universe of his thought. He would still himself from the remains of the day and isolate his eyes and ears that nothing would bother him. You could hum a tune or laugh or cry out or any maniacal acts of distractions and he would remain unaffected. The results were nearly always great. A beautiful arcing slow draw from the right to the left dead center of the fairway was the inevitable result from the tee box and a similar predictable result from the fairway to the greens.

On this one particular afternoon when the day had shred itself of its morning chores and rung out the bell for playtime, he was ready for a battle with his wits. “For that is what this game is all about.” He said.
“How so?”
“Thoughts enter and leave without rhyme or reason it is when you willfully engage with them that action is affected. It is only when you start thinking too much about something that the muscles get all confused, some contracted while others totally flaccid and the unity of motion required for a smooth stroke is gone.” He held up his hand for a second looking for a communication reprieve. There were deliberations between his arm, hand, torso, legs and feet and a few moments later a beautiful trajectory of a parabolic curve that would make a geometrist blush with envy.

“Now as I was saying, remember that Yankee baseball player in the 90s. What was his name?” He snapped his finger and thumb in quick fire method urging his brain to yield the secrets of embedded time. “K something or the other, ah Knoblock. Remember what happened to him. He got so disjointed in his thought and action because his mind paralyzed his muscles.”
“I never looked at it that way.”
“Sure you didn’t. There were plenty of psychologists yammering at the possible causes on TV and radio then. I am sure he heard everyone of them.” He shook his head in revulsion. “The mind is a powerful organ.”
“Sure is.”
“You know what happened to me fifteen years ago?”
“No, not really. We have only known each other for the past 5 years remember.”
‘Yeah.” He said, contemplating whether he should pursue the subject further.
“What happened?”

“Okay,” he said reeling in his doubts, “I was told that because of my ailments, I would have maybe another five years of life. I used to be overweight, eating on the run, sleeping on the wink always grasping for time. Your friend, my doctor told me to quit the roller-coaster life or I would not be able to live my grandchildren grow up. That scared the hell out of me!” He said it louder then both of us expected. He looked around to see if anyone was behind us. There being no one he continued, “I changed my way of life.”
“Diet and exercise?”
“No not really.”
“Just slowed down a bit.”
“But you are in such good shape.”
“You mean for my age?”
“No, I mean in general.”
“Well seventy years old is seventy years old,” he held up his index finger,” but I am alive, fifteen years now and ten years past their prediction. The weight fell off after the stress wore off. The blood pressure self regulated and the blood sugar and cholesterol levels all seemed to come to normal levels.”
“Any magic pills?”
“Care to share?”
“This pill is called – contentment.”
“Are you telling me that you just stopped the stress and that was it?”
“Incredibly, Yes!”
“I play golf with people I want to. I spend time with my family. I do what I love to do and nature takes care of the rest.”
“Really, that’s it?”
“Well it is not easy and yet very easy. You cannot cheat your way to it. You have to do it step by step, minute by minute and then like the earthworm, you lay down the casts and overtime the ground becomes fertile once again, layer by layer.” It is hard, industrious because the gravitational pull from the other side is always tugging – demands, concerns and needs. You measure them and meet, temper and supply what you can without inserting the self in all of it.”
“I still don’t understand.”

“Allow yourself.” We had reached his golf ball and once again within seconds he had entered the realm of a universe best known to him, created by him and regulated by him.
He shot a 74 that day, 2 above par, but what a wonderful lesson in life and commitment that was. His was a small-scale revolution. Piece by piece he built himself an inner sanctum of peace and tranquility that no outsider could ever pierce.

Some strain to gain a precious moment in a day for sanity, others live on the outskirts of life looking in while some lucky ones make themselves a life to live, by pealing away layer upon layer of useless thought to achieve an inner core of happiness. The road to this prosperity of a life is riddled with potholes of surprises, suddenness and calamitous events, yet the paradigm of the mind should always remain mindful of the pavement that leads to the future. We live not for the fear of the potholes but for the travels on that pavement.

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