Sunday, July 21, 2013

Stream of (Total) Consciousness: 7/21/13

Yesterday was the perfect illustration of why I came out here, what I'm hoping to achieve, and just how difficult the quest for that achievement can be. It was British Open Saturday, the ideal day to sit around, be lazy, and never go more than 30 consecutive seconds without being under some sort of blanket. 

The morning dawned as it always seems to in these parts -- cold and dreary. The first thing I do when I wake up is check the weather app on my phone in order to determine if it's a coveralls or rain suit kind of day. Because I never updated my default location, the forecast for Washington, D.C. still pops up initially, and in my half-conscious state, I'm often excited to see that it's currently 94°. Then I notice the deer antlers on the wall, and I remember where I am, and I begrudgingly swipe the screen over to Bandon. Surprise,'s 52° with dense fog. Oh, what I'd give for some oppressive heat and humidity.  

I got to the caddie shack around 6:45 a.m. I'm late, and it's a packed house. The prospects of me getting an assignment were already slim, and it's not looking much better now. I'm actually okay with this. Not only do I want tomorrow off to watch the final round of the tournament in peace, but it's been a long week -- a week that centered around an opportunity that never fully materialized and the first Costanza-esque entry on my resume -- and on some level, I know that I'm sitting here just so I can say that I did. 

By about 11:00 a.m., I've had enough. The tournament's telecast is over for the day, so this seems like a natural exiting point. As I turn on my car, though, I notice the clock on the center console. It's not even lunch time. I've been up for almost six hours, and I've done little else but sit and stare for all of them, so I guess that's why it feels a lot later than it actually is. But there's still a whole lot of day left. What am I going to do if I go straight home? Every other station on my TV is static, and I don't even have a guide to let me know what's on. 

I give myself two choices, neither of which I want to do: head back inside and continue waiting for a job that may never come, or head to the practice center and work on my game. I know, I know...getting a free ride at a state-of-the-art, 55-acre practice facility at one of the best golf resorts in the world, where there are stacks and stacks of Titleists to hit, an expansive putting green, and a classy short game area sounds like an absolute death sentence. But I'm cold, I'm exhausted, and I'm unsure if I have the energy to accomplish anything in the 25 mph gusts. 

(A quick aside that will reinforce just how ridiculous the wind is here: on the British Open telecast, one announcer mentioned how strong the breezes were. Then a graphic popped up that showed it was blowing 14 mph. This drew a derisive, collective laugh from every caddie watching.)

I'm also in one of the worst slumps of my golfing life. This has gone on for the last several months, ironically coinciding with me getting my first new set of golf clubs in almost 16 years. I'd had my old ones since I was a sophomore-to-be in college, and for my birthday, my parents gave me money for the upgrade. I did a bunch of research, and I ultimately decided on the latest model from Taylor Made, one of the most popular clubs on Tour. I went through a fitting session and everything, ensuring that I would get the most out of every ounce of technology that had been injected into each iron.

And now I can't hit the ball. At all.

Because of that, there's a part of me that's thankful I can't take advantage of the greatest job perk ever invented, and going to the range isn't that much more appealing. I'm a terrible golfer right now, and even just practicing -- the only antidote that can vanquish my terribleness -- is almost too much to handle. It's uncomfortable and fraught with peril. I get anxious, and I get down on myself, and I begin to doubt if things will ever get better. And given the way I feel at the moment, the safer option is to leave my clubs in the trunk and hit the road.

It's that type of attitude, though, that's gotten me to this unsatisfactory point in my life -- and it's one of the main reasons why I ultimately decided to take on this whole challenge in the first place. For too long, I'd been chained to my comfort zone, never straying too far, rarely testing its limits, remaining stuck and standing in place. And I finally realized that while there's safety in stagnancy, there's growth in discomfort. So I set out to, in essence, make myself as uncomfortable as possible, as often as possible.

And boy, did I pick the right spot to do that. There ain't nothin' comfortable about this place. (In case I haven't mentioned it enough) It's cold, it's windy, and it's the middle of July -- meaning absolute culture shock for a Texas boy. I haven't worn shorts outside without immediately regretting it since I crossed the Oregon state line. 

But beyond Mother Nature, almost every aspect of this journey is uncomfortable in a mental or emotional sense. Getting up before dawn to go to a job where I might not get paid is uncomfortable. Committing to write every day (whether I publish something or not) is uncomfortable. So is constantly feeling as if you don't fit in, and living in a musty basement that has a random twin bed in the dining area, and being in a time zone where I'm a minimum two hours behind everyone I communicate with, and dealing with the uncertainty of what happens after this is done. 

Almost every second of the day, I am uncomfortable, and if I'm not, it probably means that I'm doing something wrong.

And that's why I forced myself to go over to the practice center for a couple of hours. I refused to be unproductive, I refused to do as I've always done. Sure enough, it was just as cold and blustery as I anticipated, and my swing was just as hideous and gawd-awful as I expected. My hope, though, is that, in the same way every burning rep during weightlifting makes you stronger, every grueling step I take beyond my comfort zone takes me one step closer to transformation.

It takes a toll on you, though, being in a perpetual state of discomfort. It taxes you both physically and emotionally. And the moment I got back home, I felt like I'd been punched in the face, and I fell asleep on the couch for the next little bit, until it was time to get my Early Bird Special dinner ready for my Slingbox-Skype date with Emily. The Pacific time zone has turned me into Jack Klompus.

There's no way of knowing if I'm going about this the right way. I don't know where the balance point is, and given that I was so far the other way coming into this, I don't know if I should even worry about locating it. But there are times when I wonder if it's always best to keep on pushing, or if that will inevitably lead me to one day crashing. 

I guess there's only one way to find out.        

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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?