Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Stream of (Total) Consciousness: 7/24/13
It's been a bit of a soul-searching type of day. I was out of bed by 5:27 a.m., but I moved a little slowly and wasn't out the door until 6:15 a.m., meaning I wasn't signing in until 6:45 a.m. It sucks to feel like you're running late when you've gotten up early enough to see ESPN's non-rerun edition of Sportscenter. Still, there were a few empty chairs in the caddie shack, and I thought my chances of getting a bag were actually half-decent. But as the hours passed, and each refresh of my online schedule kept revealing the same blank page, I slowly became resigned to the reality of another fruitless harvest.
The free time gave my mind ample opportunity to start thinking on a big-picture level. This is almost never a good thing. Today was no different, as I began questioning if I was doing the right thing by staying out here, if it was even worth my time, because all of this sitting was starting to feel ridiculous. I had been told beforehand, though, that there was no guaranteed workload, and once I started making my way through training, I overheard plenty of guys talking about having to ride the pine until you gain a little experience and earn a little seniority.
This is how I get my information, by the way -- I overhear it. Not only does the resort not tell you what's going on -- how the system works, what's the best way to break in, when's the best time to show up, how long it's worth waiting each day, etc. -- I literally have no friends who I can ask. As I explained before, making friends was neither a priority nor a concern coming into this; truthfully, I kind of figured it would just work itself out as I went along. Part of that plan was contingent on me actually caddying, though, when I'd be out on the course, working alongside other caddies and getting to know them organically, bonding over shared experiences -- like having to rake an entire bunker because it takes your player three swings from three separate locations to get the ball out. But since I've been spending most of my time sitting, that plan hasn't had much chance of taking effect. And left to my own devices in the caddie shack -- and I literally mean devices, as in, my phone or my laptop -- I rarely come out from behind the glow of either screen to try to get to know anyone.
Upon reading my post about the 2013 Bandon Dunes All-Caddie Nickname Team, my brother, Brian, and sister-in-law, Karen, gave me the suggestion of acting like an undercover journalist and exploring all of the diverse personalities of the caddie world. This was an exceptional idea, because a) it would give me something to write about besides having to get up early, b) it would be a catalyst to start meeting people, and c) you've got to figure the dude nicknamed "Crazy" has some outstanding stories in him.
But upon hearing this recommendation, my natural inclination was to recoil and say no. This reaction was not atypical for me; it's pretty much what I always do. It's embarrassing (and probably idiotic) to admit, but whenever I'm presented with something to do, I reflexively try to figure out some way not to do it. My default response, the one that comes to you without even thinking, is always no. That's my starting point. This is because, in the simplest terms, doing most things, for me, is uncomfortable. It sparks my anxiety and insecurity -- especially when it's sprung on me unexpectedly, when I haven't had time to mentally prepare for it. It's why nine times out of ten I don't answer the phone when it rings; instead, I let it go to voicemail and call the person back on my own terms when I'm fully ready. I have become more and more aware of this over time, though, and I don't like to let it beat me outright, so I do my best to fight through it -- at least to some extent, so that later, I don't feel horrible about myself for giving up or bailing out, and I can seek comfort in the name of trying.
In this case, the mere thought of attempting to get to know the other caddies and to gather the behind-the-scenes tales of the shack felt absolutely terrifying -- even though it would unquestionably be the right thing for me to do. I'm certain that if I were to make a few friends, my experience would begin to tilt in the proper direction. I'd feel more comfortable, more at ease, and I might even get to take advantage of my playing privileges instead of being relegated to the driving range.
But it's just not something I feel I can do, and there's a part of me that's a little angry that my social integration has gotten to this point. And on a bigger scale, there's an even bigger part of me that's resentful that this whole journey, in general, has been this difficult. I've risked so much, and I've pushed so hard, and I've stretched so far beyond my comfort zone already that I can't help feel that I'm deserving of some measure of validation. Why haven't I gotten more assignments, and why can't any of the caddies I have actually worked with remember my name? I feel like Ray Kinsella in "Field of Dreams" when Shoeless Joe invites Terence Mann into the corn fields instead of inviting him. Ray's done everything he's been told to do, everything that he felt was right -- all essentially on blind faith -- yet he's got nothing to show for the effort.
Me? I came clear across the country -- why can't the universe meet me halfway?
These are the thoughts that were running through my head the entire day, and I do think they carry some validity. I also believe, though, that it's not some unseen higher power that is the true object of my anger -- it's me. Yes, I've come a long way, and yes, I've already pushed further than I was sure was possible. But I fear that I'm falling into my same, old pattern again, doing just enough to appease the inner critic, always figuring out a way to tap out before I've given my absolute best. I've been down this path too many times, and I know where it inevitably leads -- to regret, to rationalization, to the land of What Might Have Been.
A big piece of what convinced me to take on this challenge in the first place was the disconnect that I believed existed between what I have achieved, and what I was truly capable of. And -- I know this is going to sound odd, and I know it may make some uncomfortable, so brace yourself, you've been warned -- that got me to thinking a lot about the expression, "Gun to your head." Again, I realize that's an unpleasantly violent image for most (including me), but if you can get past that, it brings up an interesting dynamic:
What would you be capable of doing if there were a gun to your head?
Take any situation or task that scares you, that seems impossible, that you know you want to do, but that you've avoided with every fabric of your being -- and now imagine that you were told to do it with a gun to your head. Would you be able to handle it then? Would your fears and anxieties about doing it (forget about the gun for a second) be as insurmountable as they currently seem? Or would you be able to find it within yourself to overcome those and get the job done?
This is not an endorsement for living and doing things out of fear; it's an exaggerated (dangerous, over-the-top, possibly-inappropriate-given-the-current-state-of-gun-control) ploy to highlight the gap that remains -- for me, at least -- between accomplishment and ability. Too often I stop short, despite possessing the reserves to keep on going. Just because I've done this much doesn't mean I can't do that much more.
So going forward on this journey, maybe I can do more. Maybe I can get up a little earlier each morning. Maybe I can hold out for a job a little longer. Maybe I can leave my computer in the car for a while, maybe I can sit down at a table where some other guys are hanging out, and maybe I can bond with my fellow caddies over the next viewing of "You Don't Mess With The Zohan."
And who knows...maybe if I can do all of this, maybe I'll get every last ounce out of what this experience has to offer.
- "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?