I'll never forget the day we met.
A bunch of friends dragged me to the course. I watched them tee off and then tried to do what they were doing. I have no idea how I did it, but I managed to par that first hole. It was love at first swipe.
Our relationship followed the classic pattern. First there was infatuation -- buying a set of clubs, hacking away at the driving range night and day, thinking of golf when I wasn't playing golf, voraciously consuming instructional books, reading golf magazines, watching the pros on TV, buying a new set of clubs. All this was fueled by the heady intoxicant of Improvement.
Then came our first rough patch. You needed more of my time, but I wasn't able to devote it to you. You retaliated by inverting my Improvement curve. My passable game soon became impassable. Contradictory swing thoughts scrambled my brain. Desperate offerings to Callaway, Ping and the other minor golf gods were to no avail; I couldn't buy my way out of my downward spiral. I was discouraged on a good day, infuriated on a bad day.
We needed a break from each other. Thankfully, a severe lower back injury intervened.
That year apart was the best thing that ever happened to us. When we met up again, we rekindled our earlier flame. Instead of Improvement, I just wanted Enjoyment. Gone were the old frustrations. Striving was replaced with serenity and acceptance. Beautiful days were noticed. Errant shots were forgotten. For a while, without trying, I even began to Improve again, eventually surpassing my earlier peak before leveling off.
We've been on an even keel for five years now. I'm not getting better, but I'm not getting worse. We could probably continue this way forever, but I'm tired of treading water. It's as if we have a long distance relationship and the distance is getting greater and greater. Life is too short for meandering. It's time to move on.
I'd like to say it's me, not you, but that isn't entirely true. Tennis, for instance, is much more forgiving, much less temperamental, and much less demanding. In just a few months, I've gotten further in tennis than I ever got with you. Tennis demands less of my time and it plays less with my mind. I've built a much healthier relationship with tennis than I'll ever build with you.
I'll always retain a soft spot in my heart for you. We've been to some lovely places, places I'll never forget. You taught me a lot about myself. Although much of it wasn't flattering, I'd like to think I'll learn from those unhappy memories as I try to build healthy relationships in the future. You also taught me to focus in a way I've never focused before, even admitting me into the Zone a few times, times when I came as close as I'll probably ever come to achieving the Taoist grail of wu-wei -- action with inaction. I'll never forget those moments, and I thank you for it.
I'll keep my clubs available for a few flings and reunions -- the occasional charity golf tournament, trips to Scotland and Ireland, the obligatory entertain-visiting-relatives-who-golf thing.
You're old, but you're still capable of playing the field. You may never own the dance floor like you once did, but you'll never be a wallflower. Who knows? Maybe you'll ensnare one of my kids and I'll have to drag myself onto the course if I want to spend any time with him or her. Wouldn't that be a funny twist?
I hope we can still be friends. Thanks for the great times.