“If I base what I do off of what I did, then I’ll never focus on what I’m doing.” – Valerie Walker.
I went on a fabulous motorcycle trip at the end of July 2019 to Sturgis, South Dakota. A week spent in bike country with dear friends–I consider them family–is always what the doctor orders.
This is a group that always goes above and beyond to care and love each other. Everyone goes out of their way to look after one another, make sure we have what we need, and ultimately have the best time possible.
I’ve known all of these people for at least a decade. We all share similar backgrounds and interests in multiple areas while maintaining incredible individuality and personality. For me, my association with them all started through the martial arts program I participate in. And while I don’t necessarily hang out with them regularly, we navigate with ease the time we are together.
Most of our group would fall into the category of “A-type” people; opinionated, strong-willed, all leaders in their respective careers and personal lives, and no strangers to overcoming hardships. A newcomer to this group would—and has on many occasion—misinterpret our association and find it difficult to understand how such domineering people can integrate and exist so naturally together without tempers flying or feelings cauterizing.
I say all this not to stand on a pedestal, or preach some “holier than thou” rhetoric, but to help support this next statement: Whenever I am around these people, I always come away with more than I arrived with. Everyone is so eager to give and love that it’s impossible to denigrate them or find fault to brew guile or jealousy. We live to love each other and encourage the best from one another.
Now I can get into the quote at the top of the page.
On this particular trip, I came away with some incredible help and insight into some particularly troubling and worrying situations I’m currently working through. However, for this little blurb, I’m picking one small piece that acted as the icing on the cake.
Val and I were talking about golf. Especially when we’re on the green. We have before us a putt that is less than adequate, and if we screw up the first go, then we find ourselves in divergent territory.
She continued that often our second effort–the correction–prompts us to overcorrect or overanalyze. Thus promoting another attempt that ends sour. And the ball still isn’t in the hole.
I’m haven’t acquired a solid base for this thought process yet, but it intrigues me. On an extremely personal hand, I am an abuser of overanalyzing, and for me, my third try is most often the one that gets me where I want to go in my golf game. My first attempt is full of fear or overconfidence, my second usually tips the scale in the exaggerated opposite direction from the first attempt, and the third provides me comfort and confidence that I have found the happy medium.
Why can’t I just lock in at number three on the first go?
I suppose that is a (contextual) million-dollar question.
On the one hand, I find a passive success in exploring the “extremes” of reworking something I’ve already done. It provides me knowledge and experience within avenues that wouldn’t exist had I not felt the emotions I did or been curious to “see what would happen.” That last statement, I confess, is often used as a coverup with I for whatever reason can’t admit to my insecurity and want to make the effort again.
I don’t see the extra endeavors as inherently disparaging. However, I am a believer in facing and overcoming one’s self, so the fact that I still have work to do in courageously standing up to my insecurities invigorates as well as frightens me.
On the other hand, I have also noticed how any effort towards the desired outcome that doesn’t yield what we wish can negatively impact future work. It’s not that we want to keep getting it wrong, but all the subconscious personal and intimate aspects of ourselves find a way to barge out when we must yet again make the same go of what we wish could just be done already.
I want to sink this putt on the first try. I’ve been playing golf for years, in all reality, so the fact that I keep reading the greens wrong, or not giving enough “oomph” to my stroke, or giving too much “oomph” and watching my ball go sailing to the far side of the green, only serves to frustrate me as I must make shot number two.
I find a lot of wisdom in my dear friend’s words that sometimes our efforts to correct a previous egregious action may only serve to start us off a divergent course from where we began or hope to stay. Pining for a lost past, hoping that the future will be better, removes us from our present.
The now is still the now.
I do believe, though, that our mistakes provide insight towards the future. Without weaknesses, shortcomings, insecurities, or any other plethora of unsavory addendums of life, I am confident in saying we would not be nearly as well equipped to continue living. But when we use these aspects as a crutch to lean on, limping into our future, we demonstrate a severe lack of love. Would we be willing to remain in misery as opposes to facing the scary thing head-on and ending it once and for all?
Now I’m back on the golf course, my ball sitting on the green, and I have one shot in front of me. Not two, or three, or four. I have one. True, depending on how that one shot plays out, I may end up with more. But while I have the one, why do I place unnecessary emphasis on the shots that have not, or may not, ever happen?
This is the result I’ve discovered from pondering Val’s words. Our mistakes brandish powerful influence, but only if we can learn from them and then let them go. “If I base what I do off of what I did, then I’ll never focus on what I’m doing.”
We cannot live passively in the present and hope to change or move forward. Take the past, learn from it, and then refocus on the prevailing situation at hand. I may miss my first putt, but all that means is that I have another chance to drop that ball the second. The first may show me what I did wrong, but I have no desire to idolize my inadequacy. I want it to know I’m grateful for it at the moment, but anything after that is a grand overstay of a welcome.
My attention is too valuable to be always spent behind me. At some point, I need to level my eyes and take stock of where I am. “There is a saying: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present,” as quoted by the incomparable Master Oogway.
I think it’s stellar how we can grow so profoundly. I think it’s humbling how humanity finds its most significant strengths through vulnerabilities. I love my friends, and they influence and love they share with me every time I’m with them.
How cool is this?