Friday, May 23, 2014

Conquering the Past

One of the defining moments of last year was the Terror on the 10th tee box incident.. It was one of the worst experiences of my life and it has been something that has stayed with me. One of the worst things that can be said is, "it's not that difficult" and when it happens it that moment, despite the passage of time, lives on.

I've golfed on with the fears of that moment being repeated. I love golf, but since that day I've been hyper-vigilant on doing everything I can to avoid a repeat. While there hasn't been a repeat I've felt as if I needed to go back to that course; to finish a round; and to overcome my fear. 

Back on my Christmas trip, one day, I drove by this course and was overwhelmed by fear and the memory of that day. That being said, when I booked a non-refundable tee time I was, well, worried. 

Would I be able to go into the clubhouse? Would I be able to simply pull into the parking lot? What would I do if I saw any of the cast of characters from that day? 

I started driving towards the course and my nerves got tense. I often talk about the "associative memory system" in terms of objects but places can hold just as much if not more power. "This is a mistake... This is a mistake" I kept saying aloud. 

I got there and as I pulled into the parking lot my eyes were instantly transfixed to the point I had parked 11 months ago. "This isn't then... This isn't then" I was relegated to saying because it felt like then. All the feelings of then were now. Why was I doing this to myself?

Why? Because I had to. I had to conquer this feeling that's been with me for 11 months and I don't know if it was the right thing to do, but it was a must for me. 

I parked, got out, and tried to distant myself from where I was. My focus was on my golf game and how to cure this awful slice I've had this year. However, as I walked into the clubhouse, there was no ability to distance myself because the reality of now was all too powerful. 

My fear was this; what would I do if I came across someone who remembered the episode? What would I say? What could I say? 

I checked in and all was normal; there were no words or familiar faces. For the six people in the clubhouse it appeared as if I was the only one who knew the drama of eleven months ago. 

The course was rather empty, and each ghosttown compared to last year, so the pace of play was great. I did come across a couple large groups and each time I did I feared that this would initiate the repeat, but each time the people were more than friendly and perhaps the most friendly golfers I've come across which was one of the more major moments I've had in a while. 

Major moments? I wrote something long ago that stated, "other people are mean, cruel, and not worth knowing." This was a truly grim view of the world and while I don't believe this on a daily basis the event from last replanted those seeds of thought, but now, in the same location of last year's disaster, people were being nice. 

The holes flew by and I made it back to the infamous location; I was on the 10th tee box. Eleven months prior I had been reduced to a hyper-ventilating heap of mess and now there I was, back. 

Since I had time to prepare I wasn't overwhelmed and I grabbed a tee, grabbed a ball, and stood up on that tee box and went through the motions and I had a drive that was a sight of beauty. This alone was a symbolic event that showed me that time moves on and I had, indeed, grown over the past year. Things got better as my 2nd shot was great, third shot got me close, and on this par 5 I got in the hole in 4 for a birdie. 

A birdie! I didn't think this event from lady year could ever have had a happy ending, but it couldn't have been scripted much better. I had come back, persevered, and after that birdie my golf game did somewhat fall apart, but it didn't matter because this was more than just a round of golf and that was more than a birdie and it may have taken eleven months but time, finally, has moved on. 

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