I’ve been waking up in time to watch the sun rise over the Mississippi River for the past four mornings. This was an added bonus to the Airbnb we rented with friends for the U.S. Masters Disc Golf Tournament in the Quad Cities. At the beginning of the trip, each day held the promises of possibility as we all nurtured dreams of playing really well, and maybe even winning this year’s title! As the week wore on, hopes were dashed –especially mine – as missed putts, missed lines and OB strokes (out of bounds) began to creep onto our scorecards, narrowing our chances for victory, or even winning some cash. On this, our last morning, the rising sun is hidden by the clouds, reflecting a shift in tone and mood. The competitors who ‘made the cut’ are waking up to steady rainfall for their final rounds, a very slight comfort to those of us who don’t have to traipse the muddy hills today unless we choose to spectate or caddy.
I woke up early to write, knowing the rain was falling and pretty sure I wouldn’t see the sun until we left this part of the country later this morning. There’s still a lot to clean up, and normally I would have spent the better part of last night and this morning ‘preparing’ to leave. It wasn’t easy to let my long-held habit go and just be in the moment, but since it’s Wholeness Week, I’m more open to trying a page from another book…. The rewards keep coming as I’m sitting in the dark, enjoying coffee and considering all of the amazing moments I have gotten to share with friends and the disc golf community at large during this event. The fact that there are more poignant interactions with others than I will be able to recall gives extra meaning to it all. And the truth in that statement makes me wonder how many cool things have happened in my life that remain cloudy in my memories.
Last night was another unplanned gem as the full moon rose above the river, bright orange-yellow, through layers of clouds. The hot air from the day grew crisp as the wind picked up, and we could feel summer fading into fall before our eyes and against our skin. There were seven of us sitting on the deck, an even mix of conversation and stunned silence as we all stopped speaking and gazed at the moon whenever it became visible. The hearts of these people beat rhythmically with my own, whether I am with them or not. In the strength of that power, I can feel the sting of my embarrassing scorecards fade away, reminding me that it is only my ego that cares about that damn ‘permanent record’. My soul is well-fed and happy, providing the space for my ego to finally relax into the value of what lies before me, with people I love, under a beautiful, full moon reflecting off the water.
My biggest takeaway from the week is the enhanced perspective that comes with ongoing fundamental conversations. The continuing narrative we share with friends and family helps us keep a finger on the pulse of each person’s perspective, as well as keeping us in touch with our own subtle changes. Childhood beliefs and experiences shape the way each of us see the world and our specific place in it, but the people we interact with provide the substance (or lack thereof) that binds us to humanity at large. These interactions lead to stronger connections, and the more we know another person, the more we can learn and understand about a perspective that is inherently different from our own.
When we only look at part of a thing, we miss the magic that exists in the altogether wholeness. It’s an easy habit to acquire and many of us do it regularly, without further consideration. Take a look at our lifetimes, for instance. Only with great effort and attention do we take in the entire experience as a whole. Unless someone asks “what was dinnertime like for you growing up?”, you’re not likely to revisit those memories unless there is some type of extreme emotion attached to the experience. My grandmother’s cream of wheat breakfast was nothing out of the ordinary, but in her kitchen, with her half & half, combined with the view of the lake from her kitchen and the sounds of her words while I was eating it, made it seem more like an event than a meal. Without that experience, the mention of cream of wheat would mean little to nothing to me. Because of my grandmother, it evokes great feelings, and for that I am eternally grateful.
The memories that I get to walk away with from this week will keep me laughing for years to come. My new favorite cussword - Bullshark! - penetrated the group lexicon a little at a time, but I definitely heard each person say it at least once. Several of us felt like swimming in the river after our early rounds. There were practical discussions about cleanliness and safety, as well as the flip side, where we revealed the most disgusting swim conditions we’ve endured - Hilarious! It was frequently and often reported (only by Fred) that there have been BullSharks spotted RIGHT HERE, but the risk heavily outweighed the reward and we enjoyed the cool, muddy water without fear for a couple hours – no bullshark. For some of us, it was our first dip in The Mississippi and the history of the river itself became the focus of many thoughts as we each broke out in song, discussed literature, opined about the pioneers' early trek across the river and wondered how they might have felt about the task before them.
History is relative. This river has been here for 70 million years, and disc golf has only existed since the 1970’s. The expanse of time creates an ongoing, natural ignorance because there are simply ‘too many things under the sun’ for us to form knowledge or opinions about them all, and each day that number grows exponentially. Wholeness asks us to consider the entirely of a thing, even when we can’t possibly assemble all of the parts in our minds/memories. The goal is to hold us in the awareness that there is almost always more to the equation than what is visible, and to breathe deeply into that acceptance. It’s not only okay to not have all the answers, it’s simply the reality of the world we live in
Our Raw Material’s own Jennifer Ketz has the best line of the weekend (in my opinion) and I know it will resonate with me for years to come. We were talking about the assembled group–how much we love each others’ individuality and how different we really are from each other… From that vantage point, she formed this statement: “You know, we are each a whole lot of who we are…” Truth, and how!
In 20 years of friendships, we have logged a lot of time together. In addition to tournaments, we’ve shared the effects of our milestones: births and deaths, marriages and divorces, big moves and career changes, and the experiences continue to reveal more of the wholeness that is contained within each of us. When we share our whole experience, we grow more open, present and available as we feel accepted and respected, no matter how dumb we may look in any given moment. We celebrate the whole, because therein lies the good stuff.
I’m fully aware that I am lucky to have this community of people as a resource. My family and friends, too. There are, and probably always will be, people in both groups who aren’t impressed with me, or anything I bring to the table. I’m fully okay with that because I finally have the tools to let people be exactly who they are in the moment they are in. If people ‘judge’ the parts of me that they see, that’s simply human nature. If I judge myself, I’ve forgotten to look for my Wholeness. It is only from that perspective that we can truly see every single moment as a perfect moment. It’s not easy to stay there without practice, but the view is always second to none.