"The gamut of emotions"
Or, "How to hide from an unanswerable question..."
They’re going to ask, no doubt about that.
You’ve been out there for several hours; detached from the realities of life, from your phone, from your family. And sometimes it might feel as if they’re making a point, like you are selfish for doing so, or that they’d rather you hadn’t gone golfing this week, not with everything else that’s been going on. After all it’s only a game.
Now and then you sense a little jealousy, that this strange game - with all its codes and rules and barriers - seems to take the better part of you away from them. That you have something in your life, however strange it seems to them, that lights you up at times, makes your eyes shine the way they sometimes do. Maybe you have golf, and they don’t, and it seems a little unfair, though they think golf is for lunatics in long socks.
Other times it might be that they really, truly care about you, and they can tell that something’s not quite right deep down. There’s a subdued vibe in your manner, as if you’ve suffered out there, and they don’t golf themselves, so it’s not as if they’ll understand, and yet they’re curious, so sooner or later, they’ll ask.
So you need to be prepared, but there are no answers, so every time it’s a problem. Or rather, there are enough answers to fill every remaining moment of your respective lives, but you have to skirt round these, for your own sake and theirs. For if you get too deep, they’ll be calling for the white coats, and if you peer hard enough in this mirror that is golf, and look carefully at what it does to you, you couldn’t really complain if you they took you away. For you are ill, under the spell of a wicked and beguiling mistress. Like all the other addicts you see in the papers but you’ve been hooked by a potion with a far less rock’n’roll image.
So you try and fob them off with a vague statement, such as “not bad”, or “I played ok today”. If they probe further, perhaps you might try “I holed a couple of long ones near the end”, or “I shot 84, but it could have been a few less; silly mistakes”. And this level of detail - broad brush strokes - is where you should leave it, for these people are not golfers, and if the additional hours of life they’ve harnessed by not succumbing to the mysterious lure of the game are to be taken advantage of, listening to you trying to justify your time on the course, or come to terms with what you just went through, is not going to be beneficial.
So you stick to the basics, and they look at you in a way that seems to have a hint of pity about it, and you both move on, only you don’t. The game is over, caps removed and hands shaken, but inside your head the monologue, the commentary, the agony goes on. You, and only you, will listen, for not even your fellow golfers are up for hearing your hard luck stories - they’ll have a number of their own to work through.
For a few hours, you experience the peaks and troughs of this emotional jigsaw in all its magnificent detail. Life’s rich pageant of highs and lows, elation and depression, success and failure, “triumph and disaster” - they’re all here, a rollercoaster ride of the highest order.
Much of your time on the course is akin to the slow trudge of the Alpine skier to the crest of the hill, and every now and then - when you’re least expecting it - you seem to soar above it all as your ball soars above the grassy skin of this world you’re only passing through, and you feel that same rush of breathless awe that the skier feels as gravity pulls them back down. Thoughts and concerns are cast aside for an instant, and you cling to these timeless moments, these fragments of memory like barnacles, for you know there is something different, special, transcendent, about each of them.
So you mustn’t answer honestly, for you want to protect them, so instead of saying that you ran through the gamut of emotions in this microcosm of life itself; that you glimpsed the sublime and the ridiculous; that you felt love, and friendship, and some otherworldly connnection to the landscapes around you - instead of all that, you simply say “so so”, and breathe a sigh of relief when they seem to accept this. And you carry on your lives while straddling this line between the golfer and the rest of them, and book yourself a lesson, and look forward to the next time.
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In case you are new in these parts, here’s one from the archive that I am particularly fond of: