Some friends who think I do nothing but sit around on my big behind all day (which is not true; occasionally I stand) recently invited me to join them for a round of golf. The conversation went something like this:
Friends: “Hey, Mike. Join us for a round of golf.”
That should have been the end of it, but I have persistent friends, persistent friends who like to remind me of a time when I would drop everything to play golf, especially if “everything” meant work.
I was a music critic then, which meant I wor … well, you can’t call it work, really. It was mostly going to evening concerts and writing snarky things about them for the next day’s newspaper. It’s exactly what I would have been doing, anyway, save the typing. I would have just said the snarky things, instead.
Anyway, this kind of schedule left me with lots of open time during the day, which I would waste by smacking a little white ball around a pasture with weirdly shaped sticks. And I did it just about every day.
That kind of dedication usually pays off in expertise. After all, if you study something for 30 minutes a day you’ll be an expert in a year. Well, I devoted way more than 30 minutes a day to golf, and I did it for way more than a year, and when it all shook out I was still caroming shots off passing cars or launching them into all available bodies of water, including sewers. I even had a ball land in back of me once.
My game was somewhere between “wretched” and “Try pinochle.”
Then my job changed, and I was, get this, expected to start showing up at the office. This cut into my free time, so I stopped playing golf.
Not that my friends seemed to have noticed. Then again, it was only 18 years ago. They’re not always so quick to pick up on things.
So back to the other day: They were pestering me to dig out my clubs from the send-to-Goodwill pile out in the garage and join them for 18 holes of bad shots and worse language.
“No,” I repeated. “I don’t use those words anymore.” I should have added “except on people who keep bugging me to do something I don’t want to do anymore,” but typical for me, I didn’t think of it until about an hour later.
There are lots of things I no longer do. Drinking. Smoking. Hanging out in bars (where I did all that drinking and smoking). Other stuff I’d just as soon my mother not know about. Of the things I’ve given up, golf is pretty short of beer.
But I don’t miss the “used to’s” of my life because I still have lots of “going to’s” and “want to’s.” I won’t bore you with the list, except this: I’m going to live with greater peace, and I want to find more joy.
For those who find joy chasing a little white ball around some real estate, more power to you. I just know it’s not for me. And anyone who presses me on it is going to find themselves being called the same thing I used to call the ball, just before it hit the water.
Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to email@example.com.