Frustration and Growth On The Course
It was a day back in mid-April. I was out playing one of my first rounds of golf since starting rehab and I was on the hardest hole on the course. It’s a monster of a par three. 205 to the middle of the green with water all along the right. The pin was in the back right corner of the green that day and I was feeling a strong sense of regret.
There was a time in my golfing career when the shot wouldn’t have bothered me, but that was long before my drug use took off and I had more time for golf. I remember standing at the tee feeling dejected.
“I don’t have that shot anymore.” I thought to myself. It was one of the many things that I feared I had lost in the preceding years of my run. What else had I lost? I feared that my ceiling had grown lower rather than higher since I’d finished school. Things had been on a downward spiral for nearly four years. I was worried that I had brain damage. There was nothing that stood out that made me believe this besides a general fogginess that was beginning to clear after a few weeks clean, but I had read the books and seen the brain scans online of people who had the same drug of choice. I was worried that my mind, a thing that I secretly cherished and often abused, was irrevocably beyond repair. I worried that the best years of my life had been thrown down the drain and I felt angry. This had been running through my head well before the tee box, but those 6 words summed up the feeling quite well.
I lined up and hit the shot. I held my follow-through, along with my breath, as I watched the ball fly. I’d hit a knock down 4-iron, sort of a ¾ shot for those of you not familiar with golf. It started at the center and was fading right, directly at the pin. It landed and stuck pin-high about 10 feet right of the flag. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had. Along with being the best shot I think I have ever hit, it left me with a sense of relief and deep optimism that the future held better things if I could keep my head out of my ass and my nose clean.
One simple shot, in a game that didn’t matter, changed my outlook profoundly. Frustration transmuted, and fear transformed. That shot gave me permission to hope that I could recover what had been lost.
8 Months later and I am still improving on and off the course. Today was not a spectacular example of golfing acumen, but it did make me realize just how far I’ve progressed in that arena. The 85 I shot today felt horrible. I was frustrated beyond all hell, and basically rushed through the last 3 holes to get off the course as quickly as possible.
I realized something important on the drive home however. 12 months ago, I couldn’t swing a club. 10 months ago, all my money was going up my nose, so I couldn’t afford to play. 5 months ago, I would have been fairly satisfied with that score. The frustration of the day was not so much a product of my poor play as it was an indication of how much I have grown on the course.
I know that golf is a past time, and unless one is a professional in some capacity, isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things. I use it as an example because it is easy to put numbers next to performance. It’s an indicator of change. Nothing more.
I believe that the amount of frustration one feels for a thing they consider important to them is a gauge of how well they are challenging themselves. If we remain on cruise control, always maintaining a level of difficulty that is handled easily, we are not pushing ourselves hard enough. Growth comes through testing our boundaries, going a little past them, and forcing those boundaries to expand. Frustration is not something to be feared. It is something to seek out and overcome.