He was playing in a golf tournament, a very competitive one, where the colleges are already starting to notice promising high school sophomores. James had the lead and you could almost hear his mind whirling, there was smoke coming out of his ears. As I was helping a competitor find his ball, part of my job as James’s caddy, I spotted 2 Pileated Woodpeckers chasing each other around a tree trunk. The other caddy and both golfers joined me in birdwatching.
For a moment, the pressures of the tournament, the competition, everything else in our life was put on pause while we all shared a moment of presence. The birds were beautiful and totally involved in their own birds and bees thing, dancing not 20 feet away from us. For a moment, we were as absorbed in their world as they were.
I am striving, as a Parent, to teach my son this concept: we always have now. Golf, if he’d only approach it in the moment, would be a simple game for him. He has hit hundreds of thousands practice shots, he is very talented, if only he could be in the moment for every shot like he was when we were birdwatching. The score, the water hazards, the competitors don’t really belong in the moment he hits his golf ball, he should just be experiencing the pure joy of a moment that will never happen again. With an empty mind he would never hit a bad shot, he is that automatic. Bad shot or good, that moment is only a moment, not dependent on previous shots, not something you get to ever do over.
Teenagers have trouble with this concept. Hell, I have trouble with this concept. I’ve taught James to be competitive, to be determined, to be short with his temper. How I hope I can undo it now and teach him to be present.