The Unsung Powers of Disc Golf
You can't always get what you want…
but if you try sometimes,
you just might find,
you get what you need
I know that these Rolling Stones lyrics aren’t backed by science, but they have been heard and repeated by a LOT of people. If you narrow that pool to disc golfers, the percentage is probably well over 50%. This supports my belief that most disc golfers have a general ability to take a deeper look at things than the overall population. I believe that bears out in our personalities, and it’s why we are such a supportive collective in general. Without question, there are notable exceptions, but even the most difficult among us can find their place in this forgiving and accepting community. All things being relative, we can easily identify the types of people who bring their own challenges to the course, but my guess is that even the most rigid disc golfers carry a lightness of being into the rest of the world that sets them apart, energetically, just because they are connected to and through this round piece of plastic that brings us together, round after round and course after course.
It is Ignorance Week in Our Raw Material, and there is nothing that reflects our own ignorance back to us like Mother Nature. In Disc Golf, the weather is always an X factor, and depending on your personal taste, there are certain conditions preferable to others. There was a time when I was out on the course no matter the weather, even carrying a shovel to remove snow from teepads in the winter! These days, I only feel the call on a really nice day, or if my friends are going to play and I’m invited to join. After 20+ years in this sport, I am currently facing some physical challenges to playing, and I’m figuring out how to work with them. Once I do, I’ll be playing again, but until then, I am afforded the time and space to reflect on what disc golf means to me, within the structure of Our Raw Material.
Over a week has passed, and it’s now the final day of Emotion Week. I find myself returning to this writing, recalling what had pulled me away so abruptly. I live down the street from Crazy John Brooks – a living legend in disc sports altogether. That night, as I was writing, he sent me a picture of the land behind his house, bathed in golden hour sunlight, baskets glowing in the background. It was a beautiful picture, but also an invitation. If I didn’t know CJB so well, I might have missed the opportunity to go enjoy a beautiful spring evening sitting out in nature and catching up with one of my dearest friends. What I couldn’t have known (my ignorance lesson) was that the statement I had just written about my current physical challenges was about to be reworked before I had the chance to settle into it.
We caught up for a bit, as I messed around with putting. He clearly noticed my struggle, but didn’t offer any advice, as he often does. I’m ‘miss and hit’ with direction, meaning it usually doesn’t reach me until later, sometimes taking years to sink in! He knows this about me, and we banter about it with ease. The evening was perfect. My daughter had also stopped by, and I listened to their conversation as I reacquainted my hand with the feel of a putter. In my peripheral anger about my eyesight, I have been neglecting my active disc golf relationship, giving it little to no attention. This was only evident when I noticed how long my fingernails had become and that my 20 years worth of calluses had all but disappeared. In that instant, I missed them, even though my hands hadn’t felt so smooth in years. My vulnerabilities were exposed in nature, and I realized how long it had been since I had even tried putting. My anger fell away, and my love for the sport came rushing back into my heart. It felt good.
Those feelings were grateful for the space to breathe and I realized then and there that I had locked my significant pain into my mental state. When I began to pour my energy into writing about disc golf, I moved all of my feelings into my brain, effectively detaching myself from their power to support my injury and heal me. That night, in Crazy John’s backyard, I pulled myself back together. It was the night that ignorance week switched to emotion week and the universal message was clear to me: In order to have clarity, I have to acknowledge how I feel, and have felt, so those emotions can move through me, not remain stuck in my physical body.
I laughed out loud as I let my pent up feelings fall away, shifting with the night air and the rapidly fading horizon, naturally. For the first time, I was able to ‘see’ the problem with my putting, giving me a chance to develop an organic correction. I remembered that I’ve been here before, as I recalled old injuries that required a realignment of my form. Crazy John and I took a trip down memory lane to our most cherished course, The Buck and Doe. We conjured up the feelings and tones of that beloved spot that we miss so much and I infused it into my desire to heal my ability to putt, feeling my confidence rise within the connection.
That might sound like a joke to the people who have played with me a lot, since putting is rarely my strong suit in competition. The current difference is subtle, but it’s significant in its expression. I can’t explain exactly what happens when I miss short putts repeatedly in recorded rounds, but I know what it feels like in my body. This current eye thing has been different, showing up as an inability to aim properly. The result is exactly the same (missed putt), but the physical and mental feelings are not even close, and I believe that’s what made me angry. Neither miss feels very good, but I now know that my ‘regular’ misses have much more to do with my personal value system than being an actual physical problem. At some level, I’ve always known I have the power to overcome it if I really want to. When the problem presented as strictly physical, it made me feel helpless. And it was good to be aware that I had ‘let myself’ get stuck there.
My Emotion Week has passed without much focus on disc golf, but as I re-engage with this blog, I feel a sense of peace that I didn’t know I’ve been missing. I’ve always known how strong my connection to disc golf is, heart and mind. What the last two weeks has taught me is that it has the power to pull me back if I stray too far away. The energetic force of that bond is integral to my very being, and the natural world uses that arena to balance my personal equilibrium. My spirit is replenished as I play, and even the worst of my disc golf experiences help me maintain perspective in the world at large. There are a lot of things I could have blamed for my detached approach: winter weather, being busy with other passions and my physical limitations, but remaining connected to the reality that my relationship with disc golf heals me is one of the greatest gifts I can give to support myself. After all, a bad day playing disc golf is still a walk in the park, right?! You never know exactly what you will encounter, but if you are paying attention, there is a symphony of invaluable notes for us to hear.
I can’t always get what I want, but because of my relationship with disc golf, I always eventually find that I get what I need.