an attitude worth fighting for

A couple of years ago, when I was living in Scotland for the summer, I had the privilege of having a man named Don Snyder caddie for me at The Castle Course. It was one of the most incongruent moments of my life because Snyder is an author of some acclaim having written, most notably I guess, the novel Fallen Angel and the subsequent TV movie that starred Gary Sinise.

There I was at that moment writing a piece for and developing In The Burn, the book featured on this website’s right-hand column. And the man serving as my assistant, i.e. my caddie, had already accomplished the things I was hoping to achieve. It put me at a bit of a loss. I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

I mostly put the situation out of my mind. I continued to see Snyder around town and visit with him occasionally. But his presence sort of made me feel superfluous in what I was trying to accomplish, so maybe I didn’t become as good of friends with him as I could have.

Nonetheless, something he told me came to mind this week. We were playing one particular hole on the back nine at The Castle. The fairway sloped from right to left and the farther left you strayed, the more difficult the shots became. So Snyder stressed that I should fight for the right side of the fairway.

I mean he really stressed it. To the point that it was sort of off-putting. Internally, I was kind of like “OK, I get it. Stay to the right. How dense do you think I am?” Inevitably, though, my execution fell short of my understanding and I didn’t stay as far right as needed.

The reason this came back to me recently is that sometimes it’s hardest to do what seems the most necessary and the most straight forward. I’ve noticed or re-noticed or finally just learned or, well, I’m not sure how to categorize it, but the point is it’s difficult to maintain a good attitude. And I think maybe the good attitude (the right side of the fairway in this metaphor) is necessary to make possible the approach to the green (general peace and joy). So you really have to fight for a good attitude. The middle of the fairway (establishing your attitude according to life’s events) won’t get it done. You have to be committed to the right side.

Incidentally, I was having lunch downtown with my friend Jeremy on Monday, which was Veterans Day. To our surprise, our town actually has an extensive Veterans Day parade. So we were watching the parade out of the window of the sandwich shop where we were eating when Jeremy commented that there wasn’t much cynical you could say about a parade. I replied that I had already thought of something and thought better of saying it. He laughed and I revealed that I thought if you were to explain a parade to someone from another planet, you’d have to say something like, “It’s when people line up on the side of the street and watch other people walk down the street.”

See what I mean? I’m naturally pretty cynical. So I really need to fight for that right side of the fairway.

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