I once played golf with an 80-year-old who was more than twice my age at the time. We played the “white Tee boxes.” While I hit long off my drives into the woods, he hit 160 yards onto the middle of the fairways. He parred while I danced with bogeys and double bogeys. It was a classic show of inexperience and hubris over a tested, hardened and enriched mechanical philosophy. The game ended with him beating me by an embarrassing 20 strokes! 20-strokes in golf is a face in the towel, sniveling, red-eyed, shame.
Enough shame weighted time passed and I began my journey to rectifying the military version of golf into the steady, boring version, I had witnessed those many years ago. Lessons just crushed my soul and after going through two full days of analysis, I could not hit the golf ball at all. With all those mechanics of 9 O’clock and 3 O’clock positions and other ego-deflating maladies that I could not conquer.
So I set on a course to correct myself the uncorrectable. I started to become a “feel” player, learning the mistake in every swing. Analyzing in my head when the ball launched correctly and when it didn’t. Soon, I concluded that the slices and fades were a function of the club face meeting the ball from “outside-in.” I had been told that, but it had no meaning. I experienced it, learnt from it and then gradually as building blocks go, I exaggerated the inside out swing. MY scores hovered in the low 90s for a while. There was still something amiss. After two summers, it dawned upon me that my drives were anemic. From my all-time best of 310 yards, I could barely pull off a 220-yards flight. Age they said, does that. BS, I cried in my head. BS!
One day on a windy day, I stood over the Tee box 430 yards from the pin on a PAR-4 hole with trees on the right and the left and a 50-yard-wide fairway. I decided to swing the club like a baseball bat to loosen up and then realizing that using the same pivot points I addressed and hauled at the little white dimpled innocent thing. The ball flight was so pure moving slowly as it gained distance, first towards the trees on the right and then finding the right inside spin of the draw, curved tantalizingly close to the tree branches and then making its way back to the fairway 130 yards from the pin! Age, my foot!
The dilemma continues still on every address over every shot to this day. But the game of understanding my faults and learning from them, continues. You see, learning is an art form of dedication in analyzing mistakes. To error is human. To error is inevitable. To error is Universal. But to error is not all bad. It is a place of learning. It is a place from where we make things better.
And so it goes with everything in life. In mechanical engineering marvels that crash and burn like the Challenger https://youtu.be/j4JOjcDFtBE
and the Columbia https://youtu.be/1oBTzbKx0jo and
Space Vehicles, the European Mars lander crash from a 1-second inertial error http://spacenews.com/esa-mars-lander-crash-caused-by-1-second-inertial-measurement-error/
Errors are commonplace in life. They occur in the field of medicine and from them we learn new things. The fungus and Alexander Fleming’s Penicillin discovery, Jenner’s Cowpox vaccine against Small Pox, John Snow’s discovery of the fecal hand route dissemination of Cholera and Robert Koch’s discovery of Vibrio Cholerae. From Aircraft disasters like this one in Baghram Airport of a 747 Airlift where the cargo changed the Weight and Balance of the aircraft, as it did for the Korean Airways on the ground.
Most accidents are unfortunate. They are tragedies filled with loss of human lives. But we must learn from them, using our critical thinking. Without reason and critical-thinking we would still be rubbing sticks to make fire.
Learning is an art form only when critical thinking and reason are employed. It cannot be forced into the skull like meat into a sausage. It can only be there when experienced. We learn from other’s mistakes and our own, so as not to repeat them. In aviation many have spilled blood and bent aluminum to teach us rules of error avoidance. In medicine the same holds true. But arbitrary rule-making without reason is the most-vile of all monsters that plagues the society these days. We are continually with the help of self-proclaimed experts and the ignorant journalists jumping on anything that correlates or associates and claim that to be the gospel.
To those, I say…learn to analyze and assess and reflect and understand so you may learn the wisdom of the 80-year-old golfer…slow and steady, disciplined perfection with each shot and a designated point of reference to hit to.