Life's Little PleasuresbyJRob©
I love the game of golf. It's relaxing, it takes me away from the pressures of the job, and it allows me to strike a mental balance between competition and fun.
While one can surely compete against others in a tournament setting, it's really an individual game. The golfer makes the good (or bad) swing, not his or her opponent. The worst shot imaginable can be followed by a masterful, smooth, accurate shot.
Of course, not everyone loves golf. Some prefer tennis, others are dedicated to working out in the gym, while others think sports of any kind is a waste. And while it has been said the game of golf is nothing but a good walk spoiled, it is something I look forward to playing whenever time permits. I love walking a golf course, joking with my playing partners, observing Mother Nature at her finest. And heck, a day in the great outdoors sure does beat a day in the office.
Which brings me to last Saturday. What a day. Fall like weather despite what the calendar indicates. The kind of comfortable weather that brings a light pullover out of the closet. My playing partners were friends, guys I have played on numerous courses with over the years. We've traded shots both on and off the course, and are strong enough friends to let the constant ribbing and insults slid right off our backs.
It was a slow day on the course. The group in front of us was slow, having to look for errant shots. Still, despite some grumbling by the group behind us, it was a good, pleasurable day.
The seventh hole was a short par four, and after hitting our tee shots we stood, two of us in the fairway, two in the rough, waiting for the group ahead of us to clear the green. That's when it would be safe to hit our shots. Nowhere to go, we were tradiWrong.
Normally such an offensive attack would have sent me ballistic and directly into Defcon Four. I would have shucked aside the mild mannered Clark Kent appearance in favor of The Terminator. I would have found his ball, pulled out a club from my bag, and then smacked it back at those who had attempted to bean us. Or, more likely, stroked it into a lake where it would find a watery grave. Then I would stand there, as if willing to take on the four of them barehanded.
But on this Saturday, something was different. Maybe it was the effect of the horror, terror and sadness of September 11, maybe it was the mellowing which comes with age, but whatever it was, I just took pity on the offenders in the group behind us. I took a deep breath, pointed at the people playing ahead of us, and simply shook my head and moved on. It just wasn't worth fretting over.
At the clubhouse --- as we made the turn to the back nine --- we reported the offenders to the head golf professional, who assured us that we were keeping up with the group in front of us and were smart for letting him handle what could have been a dangerous situation.
The group behind us did not bother us for the rest of the day, and after getting over the shock of their actions, my game was strong. I even birdied two holes on the back nine.
I was thinking about that round of golf, and how we dealt with what could have been an explosive confrontation, and my mind wandered to some of the little things that make life a treasure.
Like the time I threw a peach pit into the back yard and a wonderful tree miraculously emerged. Or seeing my dad walk a month after suffering a serious stroke. Times like we are living in tend to bring out a wealth of emotions. There is hate, there is love, and there is a special appreciation of the fragile nature of life.
On Sunday my son scored his first goal as a Peewee ice hockey player. It wasn't pretty, it was a rebound of a teammate's shot, but when it hit the back of the net I felt proud of how hard he has worked to not only make his team but to have fun while playing. The look on his face --- shielded by his helmet and mask of course --- was priceless. But it wasn't as priceless as the look on my face later that night when a neighbor stopped me outside my house just to tell me how wonderful my son was to take out the trash for him while he was sick.
Monday night my significant other made a superb four-course dinner to celebrate my birthday, and later some friends stopped over to offer their good wishes over a bottle of special Port. Friendships are special, and all too often one doesn't recognize how important they are until someone moves away.
The following morning I was sitting at the breakfast table, savoring some coffee, before heading off to work. Our back yard borders against homeowner association land, which is actually a restricted flood plain area that is left to nature. I sensed some movement in the woods, and lo and behold first one, then two and then three deer came into view. It was a marvelous sight watching them graze, oblivious to the cars that traveled a nearby road. They felt safe and secure nibbling on the wildflowers and undergrowth.
Watching me think about a deer's life? What is their major concern? Finding food? Caring for their young? Staying out of the headlights?
Speaking of marvelous views, my Wednesday morning was completely made while I weaved my way around a detour on the way to work.
I was minding my own business, trying to follow small detour signs through a residential area. Sipping on my Starbucks, I resigned myself to the slow-moving traffic. A school bus stopped, children entered and took their seats, and we all moved on. Nothing special, the beginning of a normal day.
It has been said that timing is everything. I suspect that is true.
School bus gone, I slowly drove down a tree-lined street before turning onto a larger, well-traveled road. Traffic moved a bit faster, but was stopped more often by traffic lights. At one of those red lights I thought better of beating the yellow and pulled to a stop.
Casually looking to the left, I noticed a red Toyota, vintage 1990. A long-legged girl stepped out of the driver's seat, and my eyes gawked as I realized she was in a maroon and gold cheerleader's outfit. She appeared to be a college student, and she was talking to another girl on the other side of her vehicle.
She walked back to the trunk, which she had popped open, and I couldn't help myself. I stared as she bent over and reached deep into the trunk. That reach presented me with a perfect view of first her legs, then thighs, then a marvelous view of the maroon panties that graced her pretty behind.
The girl pulled out a box from her trunk, and stood, still talking to her friend. A horn sounded behind me, and she quickly looked my way, catching me in the act of undressing her with my eyes. She gave me a "bad boy" look as I quickly turned my head and hit the gas.
No harm, no foul, and I drove to work with a smile etched onto my face.
In retrospect, there are dozens of small, inconsequential acts, thoughts or visions that made life a pleasure. Little things can and do mean a lot.
Sure, winning the lottery might change one life, but winning the lottery is a one in fourteen million shot. Life's little pleasures emerge out of the blue when least expected, brightening a day, bringing a smile to one's face, and putting the reality of the world's problems, at least for a brief moment, out of one's mind.
Thank God for the precious little things in life.
(Epilogue: Remember that errant golf ball. Well, it didn't make its way back to the person that struck it in perfect shape. There was some goose droppings near where it stopped, and my friend Jack moved the ball over and placed in the middle of the foul stuff.)