Saturday, January 19, 2013

Killing, or at least temporarily incapacitating, the beast

I golf a lot.  I love golf.  I hate golf.  This is obviously a serious relationship.  One of the truisms of golf is "Trust your swing!"  A tentative swing usually results in a poor shot.  This is true for long and short shots. Confidence and commitment are key.  There seems to be an inverse relationship between age and confidence.  TV golf commentators mention this often. "He's got  the nerves of a twenty year old."  Too stupid to be scared?  I don't know.  I do know that its true for me.  As I have aged I feel less sure of my swing (and myself?) Especially my putting stroke.

How does this fit with the "What Do I Really Want
To Do Before I Die" theme of the past three blog entries? Well, I obviously want to make more putts but I think there is a deeper, more important connection.

This is part four of an ongoing description of a coaching session I had recently and issues raised by that experience. Especially the coach's question about what I thought was keeping me from accomplishing my late-life goals.

Tough question.  It's been a struggle trying to sort out what's really going on.  The lines of understanding I've come up with seem to interweave and contradict.  All are a piece of a very complex puzzle that will probably never be solved.

In my prior blog I suggested that "part of the problem is that I didn't want to force the issue.  I didn't want to soldier on waiting for the heartfelt stuff to kick in.  I wanted my gut and soul to lead the way not my head."

True enough but not true enough.

There is a deeper and darker factor at play here.  It is a nagging, maddening sense that the things that I really want aren't worthwhile.  That they are suspect.  Illegitimate.

What's up with that?  

One problem may be that most of the things I told the coach I really wanted were all about longing for passionate involvement in a creative process,  more intimacy with the people I loved and with God,  and improved golfing skills seem like typical baby boomer self-absorption.  There is a part of me, a big part, that's repulsed by this. Sacrifice and service are noble. Self-centered strivings are what other, less worthy people do.  Hmm.  So I'm repulsed by the idea of focusing on getting what I really want.  It's goes against some ideal I have about how to lead a good life.

True enough but not true enough.

I suspect the deepest and seemingly most immutable factor at play here is my sense that what I want must not be worthwhile because I'm not.  I'm bad. No good.  The part of me that say's "you asshole" when I look at myself in the mirror.  That part that rejects any child of my imagination as being invalid because of it's fetid source.  The shadow part that resists illumination by spreading a spectre of shame over my desperate efforts to break free of its grasping tentacles. The part that's sending a chill down my neck and across my shoulders as I write this.

True enough.

I don't want the reader to get the wrong impression.  I'm not constantly walking around in despair, thinking that I'm worthless.  But this deeply rooted negativity is part of me.  A part that, all to often, holds sway.  I never know when it will surface.  I could be standing over a putt on a golf course or sitting in front of a computer screen. I don't think I'll ever fully understand where it came from.  I do know my Catholic upbringing is a major, but not sole, culprit.  Full understanding is probably too big of a mountain to climb at this point. The important thing is minimizing the damage using what I do know.  My current strategy is to unabashedly recognize that it exists, develop a keener awareness of how it affects my day-to-day life and use this understanding to  push its ugly head back into the hell hole where it belongs.

At the end of the coaching session I agreed to tell myself at least four times a day, "I will work to accept and love myself as much as possible."