Not to belabor the sports analogy, but I’ve been thinking a lot about golf lately. Perhaps that’s because the last time I played, it was unbelievably painful. I couldn’t hit a shot to save my life. I was playing in a tournament with close friends who struggled not to laugh as I swung the club like a lunatic. Not that I play that well, but dang, I couldn’t hit anything. I left that day feeling pretty defeated.
But through meditation, I have started to learn what makes life so complicated and yet so simple. Here is an endeavor that requires one to hit a ball that’s 1.680 inches in diameter into a hole that is 4.2 inches of same, over the course of an average of five miles. How does this relate to meditation? Well, if you’ve ever stood over a golf ball when you aren’t playing well, you might understand. Every negative thought and memory of your relationship with that ball surges through your mind. Isn’t that what sitting on cushion brings to mind? All of those moments of insecurity, of pain, of loss, of memory, of crazy-making stress related to work, life, love and everything in between. That golf ball represents that effort to pinpoint concentration, to corral that moment and breath and send it into a trajectory that satisfies the game.
Meditation is not a game of course, but there are parallels. When I stand on that course and I look at the beauty of the grass, the trees, the sand, the sky, the wind, the endless expanse before me, that says, “Come get me, you fool,” I know it is only one tiny fragment of what my life presents to me.
I will set out again this year as I always do, to command that swing and control that ball and I know I’m only as good as the time and effort I put into it. But I can revel in the beauty of my friends, of the landscape and the history of the sport and enjoy every moment despite my frustration. After all, it’s only a game.