Thursday, July 17, 2014
Donald Ross Golf, Asheville, NC
I have a golfing friend that gave me some good advice recently. My drive had landed in a precarious location in the edge of the rough and I was considering the safe shot using my wedge to lay up away from the green. That was a conservative boring choice that in retrospect might have been the difference between me scoring in the 80’s or 90’s. And it occurred to me that I generally don’t remember my score from one week to the next, nor do I really assign it that much relevance in my life. I go to the golf course for the joy of nature, the camaraderie, the exercise, the game, the focus and the occasional beer on the nineteenth hole.
But I do remember the fantastic, low percentage shot I hit one fine day through the forks of a tall pine tree and onto the green where I sank the putt for a birdie. I was actually trying to hit that shot and my playing companions now refer to that pine as “the Larry tree”. And it’s still standing, unlike “the Eisenhower tree” at Augusta National. So, when my playing companion told me to “go for the green; you can lay up when you’re dead”, I went for it with all the gusto and skill I could muster. No new landmarks were to bear my name that day, as I missed the green. But I was in a handy spot and still managed a par. I remember that par as vividly as the birdie, because I was really enjoying life on those occasions.
I was having a lunchtime conversation with a friend that professes atheism who commented that most people are afraid of dying. We have a survival instinct deep within our DNA that speaks to the ability of our ancestors to stay alive. But if you have no hope for a spiritual existence after this mortal one, dying must definitely be more daunting. And there are unfortunate folks that experience a debilitating phobia about dying that distracts them from the joy of living. Woody Allen famously noted that “I’m not afraid of dying; I just don’t want to be there when it happens”. Yet it’s a common destiny for all of us and part of the circle of life.
I’m a firm believer in living in the moment and trusting in God for my future existence. I don’t recall being anxious about coming into this life, so why should I be anxious about leaving it? I believe there’s a fantastic existence waiting for us on the other side, but I can be patient about crossing over. And then there are those who long for immortality, but never considered what they would do with it. Many of those are the same folks that generally don’t know what to do on a rainy Sunday. For myself, I don’t plan to lay up in this life or the next!