Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stream of (Total) Consciousness: 7/13/13

This is a little strange writing like this. Typically, I spend hours and hours thinking, outlining, and rewriting (and rewriting again), hiding my words away until they’ve reached maybe, possibly, half-decently-written quality before I’m willing to put them out for public consumption (and by public consumption, I mean the approximately five to eight friends and family members who don’t instinctively send my emails directly to their trash folder). So this is an adjustment, and it’s not going to be easy to let go. But since things haven’t been working as I’d hoped, there’s no point in furthering the definition of insanity...

My parents have been in town since Monday afternoon, and they left this morning. That they ended up here at all was unquestionably a synchronicity or the stars aligning or some other term or phrase about the universe at work that my mother potentially heard on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. My dad booked the reservations nine months ago, way before I began seriously considering coming out here to caddy. Actually, it was his booking of this trip that brought Bandon Dunes back to the forefront of my mind. At the time, I was in a miserable situation, feeling miserable the majority of my waking hours, unsure of how to turn the tide. And hearing my father talk about the place helped me reconnect with that yearning (do you ever yearn?) and gave me a sliver of hope that there was a way out. I also grew concerned about how I might feel if he were to come out here while I was still at my desk, intently watching the clock to ensure that I hit the mandatory 50-hour work week my former employer required (that’s another story for another time), wondering what the hell I was doing with myself.

Having my mom and dad come out was equal parts bitter and sweet. I got here the latter part of June, and their impending trip  for the early part of July served as sort of the first mile marker of this experience. Whenever things got tough or other caddies failed to make eye contact with me, I could always fall back on the comfort of knowing that my parents would be here in a matter of weeks. It gave me something to hold onto, something to look forward to.

Then, just like that, it was over, and they were gone.

I find that I’m in this perpetual wrestling match with time. Either it’s going too fast or too slow, but never at the proper pace, and I can’t make it so, no matter how hard I try. Time remains undefeated. It’s emblematic of the frustrating, never-satisfied pattern that plays out for me on a daily basis, as I’ve never been able to find the proper balance between anticipation and presence. I live a “Hurry up, hurry up—Stop!” existence, where I almost feel better before something starts, because that means it can’t yet end.

In the days leading up to my parents’ arrival, I couldn’t wait for them to get here, and each hour between now and then was an hour I didn’t need. But the moment they walked through the door, I immediately slammed on the brakes, hoping the clock would stop spinning. My focus shifted from how great it was to be with them to how much time we had left together—“It’s only Wednesday, there are still three days until they leave.” It’s no way to live, and it’s no way to be. I wanted to get absolutely everything out of the experience, and yet, by constantly looking backwards simply guaranteed that the exact opposite would happen.

All was not lost with their visit, though. For one, my dad was absolutely floored by the golf. It’s truly a different game out here, and until you’ve seen it for yourself—until you’ve putted up and over a ridge from 20 yards off the green or hit three clubs longer than usual against the prevailing North breeze or tried to keep your eye on the ball without being overwhelmed by the blue of the Pacific—you just can’t fully appreciate it. My father got to experience all of this and then some, and I was there to help guide him through it.

Had I been here longer and really understood how the system worked, my guess is that I could’ve actually played with him, which would’ve been unbelievable. It’s one of my favorite things to do, teeing it up with me dad. We’ve played plenty of golf together in the past, and I know we’ll play plenty more going forward.

But being his caddy—that was probably something we’ll never get to do again.

We were a team, working together, our eyes focused on a common goal. It was a unique bonding experience to add to a lifetime of bonding experiences. And considering all he’s done for me, the least I could do was carry his bag, give him good yardages, and try to read his putts accurately. That he declared it the “best week in his golfing life” was only further validation that we did it up right.      

On the other hand, you had my mother. My poor, poor mother. What a sport. Bandon Dunes had about as much to offer her as one of her spiritual retreats would have to offer my father. Warm weather? Nope. Carts to ride? Nope. A bathtub to soak in after a long day of walking? Nope. A physical therapist who wouldn’t talk throughout the entire massage she treated herself to while my dad and I were out on the course? Nope. And yet she made the trip without hesitation. Each morning, she’d pile on five layers (even though it was 60 degrees out; 56 with the wind chill) and paint herself white with all-natural sunscreen from (where else?) Whole Foods that refused to seep in, and each morning she’d do it all with a smile on her face, just happy to see me and happy to see my dad in his element. It’s sad to say, but her saving grace was probably her ongoing fascination with the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case, and the fact that she could go back to the hotel room after a couple of hours and get caught up on the action. She’s probably the only person who can say that a controversial, racially charged murder trial that left a teenager dead, his killer fighting for his life, and a nation divided was the highlight of their trip to Bandon Dunes.

My heart ached as I said goodbye to them, but my discomfort had been bubbling beneath the surface since they’d gotten here. This was not something I saw coming. If anything, I was expecting the opposite; I thought having two of the most important people in my life seeing what things were like out here would serve as validation for what I’m doing. They’d love the golf, they’d be stunned by the scenery, and they’d understand perfectly why I’d given up so much to make all of this a reality.

Each of those three things happened, and still, I was thrown off my spot. From the beginning, I’ve had outstanding support from my family, friends, and girlfriend, but this entire concoction of a life change has been my thing, and I’ve essentially been doing it by myself. I worked out the details myself, I got out here myself, and I’ve been going through the day-to-day myself. I’ve been isolated in the middle of nowhere, but that isolation has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, serving as insulation from all that I left behind. My parents showing up shattered that insulation, causing my worlds to collide, and for the first time, I truly experienced doubt. For the first time, I felt real homesickness. For the first time, I questioned if what I was doing was worth it, and if I even wanted to be here anymore.

Thankfully, I had my girlfriend, Emily, to set me straight. When I explained to her what was going on, she reminded me that we always knew there were going to be challenges. We didn’t know where they were going to come from or what they would look like, but we knew they’d eventually be showing up.

Back when I was in that dark place, wasting away at my desk at my old job, worried that things were never going to change, I never stopped looking or hoping for a way out. And my dad making those reservations to come to Bandon reminded me that there just might be one.

And now, here we are. This is it. This is the way out. Nobody said it would be easy, and nobody said it was going to be free. And heading straight through—not retreating from or tiptoeing around—these challenges is why I came out here. 

Right here, right now, this is where I’m supposed to be.


  1. I like this way of expressing your feeling about time: Either it’s going too fast or too slow, but never at the proper pace. However, I have a completely different feeling, perhaps more optimistic...I find that just when I need something, it appears. It's not magic, just trust and perspective. Keep celebrating what you do have or have done, not focusing on what you don't have or haven't done. Like you say, "Head straight through" and take each moment as it 'wishing' or doubt, just trust and listening to your inner self. BTW, I like that you used actual photos of the characters in your story!

    1. Thanks for the reply, and you definitely have the right approach -- trust and perspective. It's definitely something I need to work on, and I appreciate the reminder. Thanks for sharing!


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"It's not a lie, if you believe it." Those were the words of one of my generation's great sages, George Costanza, and the more of life I experience, the truer they ring. And while I still haven't found what I'm looking for, the search for my own personal "truths" is never-ending. Care to come along for the ride?