Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Heaven left me

You're at the driving range. You're hitting balls, some fat, some thin. When suddenly, you notice something: you just hit a perfectly awesome shot. Like a massive pipe which has miraculously been cleared of a great jam, something is flowing through you unimpeded, and your swing opens up like a view from mountain onto a glorious plain. You wonder if it's a freak, so you go again. Another great shot. And another. And these aren't just good shots, they're the best of shots, because they're effortless. Simple. A breeze. Unconscious. You couldn't not hit a great shot if you were told to do so. Then this thought occurs, "Why, I must have discovered The Swing. My The Swing. My god, if I just keep replicating this swing, I'll never have to worry about my swing again. This is it. I'm home."

You play that weekend, and The Swing holds up. It's still there. Of course, you learn you're still prone to hitting a few off-line, but still, the guts of The Swing are present and working. You wrap up the round having a beer with your buddy, and feel satisfied, yet eager: The Swing worked, but there are a few kinks you'd like to work out before the next time you play. Easy enough. Kinks are no big deal.

You're at the driving range. Hitting balls. You think, "Okay The Swing, do your stuff!" You recall in your golfing brain how The Swing felt, what it looked like, and set about recreating that sense. And then it happens. The Swing doesn't show up. Something like The Swing appears. It has the same general shape as The Swing, and yet some essential "something" is missing. This isn't The Swing, it's its ghost. "But wait," you think, "I'm doing everything the same. Shoulders go like this, take away like this..." and yet, only the ghost remains. The flow is gone. This swing, quite unlike The Swing, is again, like all your other swings, work. "Come back to me, Swing, come back. I'm not angry at you. We can be friends, really, really good friends. Please come back." But it doesn't. The ghost of The Swing looks at you with sunken eyes, mute lips, thinning hair. It can't help you. Even it can't remember its identity, what it was like to effortlessly throw balls high into the air and land them beautifully on the flag. You stand there befuddled, wondering how to get The Swing back. But it's gone. Nothing you can do will bring it back. And you curse yourself. I had it. Now I don't. Damn the sun and the grass.

That's golf.

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