Meditation: Different

The word different is defined as, not alike in character or quality; distinct in nature; dissimilar. When applied to people, it is defined as, unlike most others, unusual. People can be different in race, personality, size, and gender. When you look at the meaning of the word different, being unlike most others, you would think that would be a good thing. Standing out from the crowd, and being different should get you noticed, and help you get on to a better life. Companies are always talking about increasing diversity in their hiring practices. However, this is usually not the case, in the real world, where people that are considered different and a little unusual, are often times shunned and isolated from society and the workplace. What society is most comfortable with is “being with their own kind”. In larger cities groups of people seem to congregate in certain areas hence, you have neighborhoods, such as Chinatown, Little Italy, and basically black communities. Why is there such comfort in being with a like kind? Why is diversity never been fully embraced in the world today? In almost every aspect of life, groups seem to congregate to individuals that are like themselves.

Is there really such comfort in being with your own kind, or is there an underlying fear of anything or anyone that is different from you. Even in such things as meditation there seems to be a stigma attached. I know of no one who uses meditation on a regular basis, and if I bring it up in a group it is usually ridiculed, or looked at as something that is a waste of time. Difference could be looked at, as the same as change. People are always wanting things to stay the same, even though that is impossible. Trying to stay away, or avoid people that are considered different, is also impossible. It is like the fear of the unknown. Fear is the overriding factor when it comes to the way people avoid anyone who is different. The reverse is also true. Anyone who considers themselves different, whether it be by race, beliefs, or appearance, will avoid making contact with the “normal” group. There is a fear of being ridiculed, and maybe even being harmed by the so called regular group. There is a lack of respect and acceptance of individuals who do not seem to be in line with the “normal” values of the community. People of certain races and religion have been persecuted and killed for no other reason than they are of a certain race or religion. Many sectors believe in a separatist society. The Nation of Islam has always sought for segregation and has had a belief that the black man is superior to the white man. Hitler had the master race. Looked upon as being different has always been a curse, rather than a positive attribute.

Being different is a fact of life, that is more prominent than any of us realize. Men and woman are different. The cultures and attitudes of various races and religions are different. These differences have nothing to do with an individual’s ability to do a job, and their right to make a living and pursue goals that can make them happy and comfortable. We as a society need to be able to function in our own group if we so desire, but we should allow a sector of society, no matter what the perceived differences are, live the life that they desire and deserve, as any person should, with free will. The fears of what a group or person may or not do, because they are different, must be laid permanently to rest. We need to embrace and accept all kinds of people, to be able to make the world a more livable place. It would be nice for that word different, to have only a positive meaning, and it would allow people to be more themselves, and have no fear of being different.

Meditation: God

Usually when I start a meditation blog with a word, the first thing I do is get a definition of the word, but we need to look at the way the word God is used first. A question many people ask is, do you believe in God. I am not too sure how many believe in God, but there are lots of people, who like to use the word God. You can not get through a day, with at least hearing one of these phrases and some many times. Good God, God almighty, Oh my God, God damn it, and God awful, just to name a few. In the free dictionary God is define as   a being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship. Webster dictionary states that God is  the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe. In religion God is given a lot of attributes and none of them bad. God has limitless knowledge and power. God is not bound by time and can not be divided. God is not material, affected or subject to change. God is totally benevolent and simple. There are times when you hear some people referred to as Gods. Quite a compliment for that particular person. For God to have all these great attributes, he then must exist. That is where the rub is. Many people do not think there is a God. If he does not exist, then who is everybody praying to. The biggest problem for God, is that he or she, is always tied to religions, and that is never a good thing. For me personally, I have always felt there is a higher power out there somewhere, but I am not going to give it a name or call it God.

One of the purposes of meditation is to discover your inner master. By discovering your inner master, you will open many avenues to achieve goals and find success. Some people will talk about God, as being their Lord and Master. Allowing another image to be your lord and master could be a way of denying responsibility for one’s actions. We have all heard of the saying the Devil made me do it, when someone does something that is considered wrong or vulgar. Rarely do you hear someone say that God made me do it, to a similar action. However, there have been many wars and attacks on mankind, in the name of God. As written before, God has always been held in a very high esteem. If you are doing something in the name of God, then it has to be something that is for the common good and to overcome evil, at least from your point of view. This one thing is certain, the word God has had a profound effect on mankind, causing man to do many historic things, some good, and some not so good. God is used as a coping device, when bad things happen to good people. It is called God’s will. When tragedy strikes, friends will say, this is the time that you need to really find strength from your faith in the almighty God. Is this something that really helps. Is there this mighty being, that is all knowing, and can explain all the bad things that happen in the world, and on a personal level. I highly doubt it. Can your own inner master explain all of these things. I do not think that is possible, either. What is then, this higher power, that I think is running the show.

I think, this is what simply, is called the unknown. There is so much of life and existence, that we do not understand, or know. There is the belief, that we are all some way connected, not only in the world, but in the entire universe. This is what the higher power knows, and it knows when all of this will be revealed. We, as a people, are not ready to be connected with whatever is out there. The day to day tragedies and events are things that are simply beyond our comprehension. We are just specs in a vast system of worlds and universes, that hopefully, will know how to exist with each other, in a very distance future. There are a number of people that think the world is going to end some day. Some think that day is coming sooner, rather than later. The human race has been thinking this way for thousands of years. The book of Revelations is dedicated to this idea, and goes about how it is going to happen. There are many movies about the world ending, and what it might be like. I feel that the world will never end, and that is what the higher power is all about. In 4 or 5 thousand years, maybe everything will be explain, and our existence will be revered, as one of the steps, that helped it all come about. Life can be hard, but you can always blame your parents for putting you into it. Stay on the inward journey, and life will be easier, even though it may not be more understandable. You will always be responsible for the way your life was, is and will be. God has nothing to do with it.

Meditation: Never

Never is a word, that you hear often, in everyday life. I am never coming back. I will never do that again. I will never eat there again. I will never make that mistake again. He will never succeed. Never means not at any time or not on any occasion. When you look up the definition of never, it is used in sentences like, I have never been to China. Never is used to describe something in the past. The sentences that I wrote using never, were all related to future events. When you use never about past events, then never is a constant, and is always true. If you have never been somewhere, whether it be a country, state, or place, that is not going to change, until you do go there. When you use never, regarding future events, it may not always be true. Sometimes, that can have negative effects on your well being, if it is something that you felt you would never do, and you wind up doing it again. The last sentence I used it in, was about what another persons chances of success were. That sentence stated, that this person had no chance at success. The best thing to say about never, when it is used to discuss future events, is to never use the word never. It does not help any particular situation, and will just magnify a bad situation. However, are there some things in life, that you should never do?

You should never judge your fellow man. This is the hardest never, to do in the real world. We inadvertently judge people everyday, even when we think we are not. Giving compliments to people is a way of being judgmental. But when judgments are negative or stereotypic, it can lead to impulses that can do bodily harm, and even lead to more general violence. Does this mean that we should never compliment people? No, but it should be done in a private way and not with a lot of flare. Negative comments should always be kept to one’s self. It is difficult to see what is going on in another person’s life. Until you walk in another person’s shoes, you have know way of knowing, how you would respond or act, in a similar situation. If we could all abide by this never, you would not see the anger on social media. We are different and have different viewpoints. No matter how much we disagree with those viewpoints, we need to have a certain amount of respect and appreciation for that individual. Making derogatory comments about people for their point of view, accomplishes nothing. Never judge your fellow man.

Never be in a hurry. Every time you rush things, there are mistakes made. This never is hard to do, especially when you are late for an appointment or a plane departure. The key to accomplishing this never is to plan ahead very well, and make sure you have lots of time to arrive or do what you have to do. Being in a hurry is what causes most accidents. Trying to get somewhere faster, leads to taking risks, that sometimes can be deadly. If you are in a situation where you are running behind, just accept the consequences, and hope that you will make the appointment or departure on time. If you don’t, things can be rescheduled, and there are other flights. Nothing is worth causing injury, or making mistakes, that could lead to other problems, just because you are in a hurry.

The final never, as far as I am concerned, is that you should never do anything, strictly for money. Money is a necessity of life. We see, everyday, people who have lots and lots of money. There are more millionaires and billionaires, today, than ever before. With everyone’s access to social media, and cable TV, we see what everyone is doing, and the lifestyles of the rich and famous are right there in front of us everyday. Money can be a wonderful thing, but it is obvious, that these same people, that seem to have more money than anyone would know what to do with, are also, many times, not very happy. You need to be happy in your everyday endeavors, and that includes what you do to make a living. When making a living is so much a part of your life, then you better love, not like, what you are doing. If you are not loving what you do, to obtain money, then bite the bullet, and find something else, that you love to do. Your relationship with money, is one of the most important things, that you will have in your life. It is probably a good subject for a future blog. For now, let’s just say you never want money to be your sole focus in life. If you allow that to happen, you will miss a lot what life has to offer, and you may never find the life’s work, that will make your life complete and fulfilled.

Meditation: Decisions

There are many decisions we make in life. There are many videos and websites dedicated to helping people make decisions. Some people have high anxiety over making decisions, which can lead to unhappiness and depression. Decision is defined as a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration. I feel, when applied to everyday life, that decision should be defined, as to choose something to do, or not to do. That is really what it boils down to. Decisions can be divided into two categories, little decisions and big decisions. The little decisions are the ones that we make every day. What time do you get up, where and what are your going to eat, things that you do at work, and what you might do after work. Then there are the big decisions, that can shape your life forever. Where will you go to college, career choices, who you might choose as a life partner and whether to have children. As stated before, there are volumes of material that can be found on how to go about making these decisions. The information at these various websites seems to be sound and very helpful. They pretty much tell you what to do, and not to do, when it comes to making those life changing decisions. What is not discussed, is some of the after affects of those decisions, and how they affect future decisions.

Looking at little decisions first, the results are fairly black and white. If we decide to try a new restaurant for dinner, and the entire experience is terrible, then we know that we are not going back to that establishment. We move on from that experience, and it does not deter us, from trying another new restaurant. If you choose to go see a movie, and it is disappointing, you still go, and see other movies. The result of the decision is straight forward. It was a good decision and a great experience, or it was a bad decision, and a not so great experience. Either way, we seem to move on, and continue to make those everyday decisions. However, when it comes to the big decisions in life, this type of attitude is harder to cultivate. This could be due to the way we look at the results of these big decisions. We need to look at the results of our big decisions, in a more gray like mode, instead of black or white. We can all make a bad decision, when it comes to choosing a life partner, a job, and buying house or car. If we take a closer look at the results of these decisions, we should see that there is always some good that comes out of these situations. All of these life choices should result in a very good learning experience. No situation is totally bad or utopic. It is being super critical of your choices, that can lead to being reluctant to make decisions in the future. It will always boil down to either doing something or not doing something and every decision will result in some kind of consequence. Whatever the result, you have to look at it from all sides, move on, and get ready to make your next big decision.

Making decisions is as much a part of life as breathing. To stop or avoid making decisions is simply to stop breathing, something that you really can not do. Remember, avoiding making decisions, is a decision. It really boils down to plunging ahead in life, and finding the best in every situation. Always continue the learning process, and never give in to the idea, that it can not be done. If a situation is unbearable then do something about it. Remember, every problem has a solution, you just have not found it yet.

Meditation: Pleasure, Part IV

Pleasure is something we all seem to want, or at least, it is something that you would think, you should want. But somehow, over the years, the word pleasure, or the seeking of pleasure, has taken on this negative viewpoint. The most obvious example of this feeling, is the articles you can read about guilty pleasures. These articles will list about 10 to 12 things, that you should feel guilty about, when pursuing these endeavors . These lists can range from bubble baths, to binge watching TV, and playing hooky from work. Then, there is Freud’s Pleasure Principle. This is the theory, that as babies, we want immediate gratification, and will do anything to get it. This will gradually subside when we get older, as REALITY sets in. The reality is, that sometimes we must wait, a proper amount of time, to receive our pleasurable experience. In some cases, there is this feeling of sophistication when it comes to pleasure. This is when art and museums, are the things that gives one pleasure. Pleasure is one of the few words that is directly associated with sex. That can creative negative thoughts for many. There is this atmosphere of distain, for people that are constantly seeking pleasure. Shouldn’t all of us be seeking pleasure. Maybe, it’s the reason we seek pleasure, that is creating the problem.

You should seek to make every experience a pleasurable one. Some people may say that is just about impossible, but I think it is something to strive for. However, the major reason I think people seek pleasure, is to avoid pain. It is this avoidance of pain, through the use of drugs and alcohol, that can lead to physical addiction. The other detrimental behaviors I wrote about in previous blogs, such as being on social media, the internet, your phone, and video games, may also be due to the avoidance of pain, or painful experiences. Pleasure is confused with avoidance or dulling of pain in everyday life. That good old alcohol buzz may feel pleasurable, but it is nothing more than a blocking device, for what is causing your discomfort. The same thing could be said for products, that claim to create pleasure. It is a tough road sometimes, just to find pleasures, in the simple things of life. This is simply finding pleasure, for the sake of pleasure. Some philosophies believe, that the only way to know you are alive, is to suffer. This may seem to be a little extreme, but it could be true. Trying to avoid pain and suffering, is a fruitless endeavor. It has been shown that avoiding loss, is a very high human priority. People seem to want to avoid losing money at all costs, rather than taking a moderate risk, to make money. Avoidance is giving pleasure a bad name.

You must embrace life for what it is. It is a series of ups and downs. Seeking pleasurable things to make you happy, is never a bad thing. There is so much of life, that can not be controlled. When something gives you joy, appreciate it, and be happy. Remember, there are no guilty pleasures in life, just the wrong reason for seeking them. Look for pleasure when things are going great. When something bad happens feel the pain, embrace it the best you can, and hope for a better tomorrow. Great losses in your life can be the hardest to overcome. Remember the ones we have lost would want us to move on and continue to get the most out of life we have. Pleasure is always worth seeking as it will improve the body and the mind. What pleasure can not do, is minimize or suppress the pain and suffering found in life.

Food: What It Can Teach Us.

Food, the way it is prepared, and eaten can teach us many things.  First it can teach us the differences in people, and how that is not a bad thing.  People can be divided into two groups, when it comes to food.  You are either a foodie, or a non-foodie. The difference is easy to define.  A foodie lives to eat, and a non-foodie eats to live. The easies way to find a foodie, is to turn to any show on the Food Network, or the Cooking Channel. These people love to cook, and consume food.  They like to find new places to eat food, and find new ways to prepare food. They are enthusiastic eaters, and when  they are eating will use  words like, heaven, oh my God, and so good.  The non-foodie will eat, and enjoy certain foods, but will not go to any great means, to find unusual ways to prepare, and eat food.  Even though, there is a distinct difference, between these 2 groups, they all seem to get along.  No one, seems to discriminate against one group, over the other, when it comes to jobs, civil rights, and opportunities. The foodies and non-foodies seem to be fine with each other, despite their distinct differences.

Food can show how unique you are.  We all have foods, that on the whole, are good for the general populous, that can just, not make us feel good.  Mine is tomato juice.  About 12 hours after drinking tomato juice I will get a splitting headache.  My daughter can not eat broccoli. Then, there is the more serious allergic reactions, that some people develop to certain foods.   It tells you, that you are a totally unique person, and that is not bad.  You want to cultivate that uniqueness, into something special. You never want to worry about being a little different, than the “regular people”.  You are that one special person, with your own hopes and dreams, that only you can accomplish.

Food can teach you compromise.   The best example of this is microwave popcorn.  The compromise is between unpopped  kernels, and burned popcorn.   You do not want too many unpopped kernels, but if you try too hard to pop all the kernels, then the popcorn will burn.  I once, had someone tell me, they liked burnt popcorn.  This person turned out to be an idiot. For those of  us, of at least average intelligence, the goal is to pop as many kernels, without that awful burnt smell, when the bag is opened.

Food can teach you when to be creative, and when to have discipline.   When you are cooking food, that is the time, to let the creative juices flow.  When baking, you better have the discipline to following the recipe exactly.  You might be creative in finding a unique way to bake cookies, pies, and cakes, but you  better remember exactly what you did, or the next time will be a disaster. In cooking, when I make sauces, dips, and rubs I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. When the sauce, dip, or rub, really turns out well, and someone wants to know what I put in it, not only do I not the amount, but many times, I don’t remember all the ingredients.  In my view, that is the fun of it, just wing it. I do not do this, when I bake chocolate chip cookies.

Food can teach us to plan.  Planning what you are going to cook and eat for the week is a great way to learn how to plan other activities.  Planning your meals for the week can help you eat healthier and help your budget.  Plan on some left overs, which you can prepare in different ways from the original meal. You can get into your creative mode again.

Food helps you to get to know yourself, by listening to your body, on how it responds to certain foods, and cuisines.  This goes beyond the more severe reactions, we discussed earlier. Start to pay attention to how you feel, after you eat.  You should feel better than when you started.  Things that can make you off, after you eat, maybe related to waiting too long to eat.  There may be a certain food, that you can tell is difficult for you to digest, or just doesn’t make you feel right.  By paying attention to such things, you can improve your abilities in any endeavor you are doing.  You may sleep better, and be more relaxed by eating foods, that only make you feel good.

Finally, food is a great way to try new things.  Not much of a negative can happen to you, by eating something you have never tried before.  Being more adventuresome in the food world, may spread to other aspects of your life.  Getting use to trying new cuisines, may make your life a little more fulfilled. Even though we need food to survive, food is there to give us so much more.  Try to eat more mindfully, and enjoy every bite, by appreciating what all that good food can really do, to make your life better.

Meditation: Monotony

I returned from San Diego on  March 16th after visiting with my daughter’s family. Of course, I have not seen my grandkids since that time. We Facetime, which is great, but certainly, it is not the same thing, as seeing them in person.  The definition of monotony is, lack of variety and interest; tedious repetition and routine. The sentence they used as an example was, “you can become resigned to the monotony of captivity”.  I am sure many people are feeling like captives, during this current pandemic.  We are heading into the sixth month of the Covid 19 crisis.  What is worse, is there seems to be no end in sight.  For whatever reason, people just do not seem to see the seriousness of the situation.  You can blame the President on all his misinformation that has come out of his press conferences, but don’t people have some sort of basic intelligence to see the gravity of situation, apparently not.  Let’s break down the bare facts of our captivity and see if there is anything we can do about it, but I would not be optimistic.

First, we are being held captive by a corona virus, plain and simple.  This is not the flu. The corona virus has been around for a long time, in different forms and is found in almost any animal. There is a corona virus unique to cats, that causes a disease, Feline Infectious Peritonitis.  Many characteristics of this disease are similar to Covid 19.  When cats acquire this virus, most cats have fairly mild symptoms of diarrhea, or no symptoms at all.  However,  5 to 10% of cats infected will  develop a disease, that attacks multiple  organ systems, and results in the cats dying.   They die, because their immune system over reacts to the virus, which causes an extreme inflammatory reaction, that destroys the organs. Does that sound a little familiar of what’s going on when people die of Covid 19?  Corona viruses have this ability to mutate into something much more serious, in any species. Google Feline Infectious Peritonitis if you want to learn more.   The whole point of this, is to emphasize the importance of trying to stop the current virus, not matter what the cost, so it does not have a chance to mutate into something even more serious. If  we are going to escape from this prison, we are going to need to step back and relock up, until the cases start to significantly drop.  Unfortunately we are not going to do that, at this point.  We are going to have to learn how to cope with monotony, because for now there does not seem to an end in sight.

How do we do this?  There is no secret here.  You will  have to emphasize all the things that make life work, except more so. Count your blessing, and appreciate every good thing in your life.  Especially appreciate your good health.   If health is an issue in your life, at this moment, then now is the time to start getting better.  Find joy in the little things in life.  Enjoying another persons companionship, good food, a nice walk, and a warm and sunny day are ways to make monotony tolerable.  Continue to look inside and dig deeper during meditation and times of quiet.  Realized that some day this will all come to an end.  It may not come as quickly as it should,  but it will end. Meanwhile continue to hunker down, pray that all your loved ones, and everybody can stay safe, until common sense prevails. Then, we will start to do the things that will free us from the confinements of the corona virus.

Golf: Stories, The 60’s Part II

The 60’s would be the decade of playing golf with my father, most of time.  Little did I know, it would be the last decade of playing golf with my father.  For some reason, he quit playing the game. That may have been partly due to  the fact, that I did not play much golf in the 70’s, and for the first half of the 80’s, but that is for another blog.  As I wrote in the previous blog, we played only on the weekends, in the early part of the 60’s, and the course was always crowded.  One of the things my Dad  did, when we had to wait on the tee box, for the group to clear, was to look for golf tees.  I still do this today, walking around the tee box looking for tees, just as a reminder, of  how much I enjoyed playing with my father.  The man was my one and only mentor.  I went to school for twenty years of my life, but I can honestly say, I learned more from my father, than any other person I was ever around.  He died in February 1999, at the age of 83, and the memories still live on, and I  see him in my mind many times.  The rounds we had together were great and so enjoyable, that even though they were very competitive, I do not recall the first time I beat my Dad for 18 holes.  Certainly as the decade ended I was beating him on a regular basis.  There were lot’s of good times and golf would always give us something to laugh and talk about.

Every once in awhile, my Dad and I would play some evening golf, arriving at the golf course about 5 to 6 o clock.  Most of time the first tee would be empty, and we would get around with no problem. This particular Saturday was no exception, and the tee box was empty when we went in to pay.  The first hole was a straight away par 4, that went uphill a little bit, about 200 yards out, and then flattened out about 120 yards from the green. When we got down to the first tee, it seemed like there was a lot of people, about 50 yards short of the green.  They were out of range, so we hit our drives.  We walked out to our drives, and it was quite an entourage that was on the first green.  But the one thing that really caught our eye, was a baby carriage right on the green. We stopped counting  when we got to 10 people  on the green.  When they brought out the movie camera, and started taking pictures of everybody, that was too much for my Dad.  He just looked at me, and told me to pick up my ball, we were heading for the second tee. It was the first and only hole, he ever skipped in his life.   Sometimes, my mother would just walk the course when we played in the evening.  By the 8th tee was a picnic area.  In the evening there would be guys playing volleyball, and of course drinking and eating, but mostly drinking.  These games could get a little intense, and there was always a lot of yelling and screaming, while you were hitting your tee shot on this long par 3, of over 200 yards.  One evening the combination of intensity and drinking, probably got carried away, because as we were getting ready to hit, there was more screaming, than yelling, then it got suddenly quiet.  The quiet made us look over to the volleyball game. Then the yelling and screaming became more intense.   Here, one player had stabbed another one, right in the belly.  I think it was only superficial, but the panic was deep. The guy that was stabbed, was bleeding pretty good, but they used somebodies T shirt to put pressure on the wound, and the game came to an abrupt end, with everyone hauling ass to their cars.  My mother looked at me as said” Please, Bobby stick to golf.”  We didn’t see a volleyball game there for awhile.  Another time in the late 60’s, my buddy and I were playing on a Sunday and we got to the 7th hole. These two guys came up to us, and just wanted to play this hole, so they could get to the food behind the 8th tee.  We said sure, since play was slow anyway, due to the outing. The first guy was what I call, a feeling good drunk.  In other words, he was loosie goosy, and he could swing the club, and hit the ball.  The second guy was gone drunk, which meant he could barely stand and walk.  After several failed attempts at trying to hit the ball, he just started the long walk of 568 yards, to get to the picnic area.   About half way there, he just whipped it out, and started urinating right down the middle of the  fairway, as he was  walking, with most of the urine going down his leg and pants.  When we got to the 8th tee finally, there was a big delay as usual, and they allowed us to go over a get a sandwich, to show their appreciation.     The seventh hole, the par 5 would give one more unique story.  We were playing with this guy who had joined us, and again because of slow play, he  was debating whether  to quit after the 6th hole, because the green was not  far from the clubhouse, about 150 yards.   He first said, he was just going to hit a drive, and walk in.   He hit such a good drive, by far the best of the day, he said he couldn’t end the day like that.  Low and behold, he hit a great  2ond shot right up on the green, and would be putting for an eagle.  He then proceeded to 5 putt.  Without much fanfare he picked the ball out of the hole, said good bye, and walked  about 600 yards to the parking lot. Never let you golf shots, affect your decision making process.

In the 60’s there would be two shots that I would always remember.  My first hole in one that was struck with a 7 iron on the par 3 second on July 31, 1968.  It hit about 10 yards short of the green on a rock hard fairway, and took 2 big hops, and then on  the third hop hit the pin, which I heard all the way back at the tee box, and disappeared.  The other shot I will always remember was just strange and more unlikely than the hole in one.  On the par 3 sixth hole at Mazeroski’s,  I hit this beautiful high 6 iron, and was watching it intently, thinking this was going to be a good shot, when suddenly, the ball collided with a bird, and both dropped from the sky, with the bird being killed. I do not remember what kind of bird it was, only that it was killed with a golf ball.  Believe it or not, this would not be the last time, I would see an animal killed with a golf ball.  I would finish the decade getting my first taste of competitive golf, but it would not be until the 70’s, that I would do anything competitively worth writing about.  As I mentioned before, the 6th green was fairly close to the clubhouse, and it was nice, that as darkness approached,  you could get in that extra 6 holes.  One day I was playing the 6th hole, and I could see that there were some pretty good storm clouds, moving in.  By the time I was putting out, there was thunder in the background and the wind was blowing.  I started running toward the clubhouse, that was about 150 yards away.   I was running pretty hard, with the golf bag over my shoulder, and getting a little winded, as I approach the first tee, where I was going to have to run uphill.  I was slowing down, thinking I was pretty safe, when a bolt of lightening hit a tree about 200 yards to my right.  Needless to say I got an adrenalin rush, that gave me that new surge to run my ass off, the remaining 50 yards to the clubhouse.  If I had been dumb enough to continue playing, there may never have been any 70’s stories.

Golf: Stories, The 1960’s, Part I

I started playing golf in 1958, at the tender age of 8 years old.  Like all my sport beginnings, I was taught by my father.  To get started in golf, he cut down an old set, that was made in the 1930’s. He made  a pull cart  from an aluminum downspout, and wheels and a handle from a grocery cart.  I played with those clubs for two years, and then for Christmas, I got my first “real” set, for juniors, with a golf bag.   The set had 8 clubs, including the putter. It came with a book, called Play It Pro, Golf, from Beginner to Winner.  My Dad and I read that book many times from cover to cover. It was about the history of the game, and had instruction about each phase of the game.  The driver chapter was written by Sam Snead, the iron chapter Ernie Vossler, short game by Tommy Jacobs, and putting by Cary Middlecoff.  I was fortunate to find this book in a used book store, about 30 years ago and still have the copy.   It’s funny, what I remember about those years.  I  do not remember playing that much, in particular, but I remember my first 9 hole round score, of 118. A week later I improved to 99 for 9 holes.   To this day, the biggest improvement I have ever had, from one round, to the next.  The golf course that my Dad and I played, 95% of the time, was a 9 hole course about 5 miles north of Martins Ferry, Ohio, named Vine Cliff, and later was purchased by Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and became Mazeroski Golf Course. It was a very popular course, because it was very flat, which was unusual for our area.  Now let me introduce you to the wild times of golf in the 1960’s.

First of all, there were no tee times, any time, or any where.  It was a first come first serve atmosphere, that could get pretty testy at times. When I was very young, and I had to solely rely on my father to take me golfing, and we only played on the weekends.  The strategy was to go very early,  between 6:30 and 7, or late morning around 11:00.  If you paid for 18 holes, in other words, you were going around the 9 hole course twice,  you would get a ticket, with the date on it, and when you got done with 9 holes, you gave this ticket to the gentleman on the first tee.  Today we call him a starter. Back then, he was more like a referee.  This meant, since you were going to play another nine, and paid in advance, that you got to tee off right after the group on the tee, no matter how many people were waiting to hit.  When people saw that I was going in front of them, all 4 foot 6 of me, the grumbling would start right away. First tee pressure came at an early age, for yours truly.  Most of the time I would hit a pretty good drive, and my Dad, who was a good player in his own right, would hit a great drive, and the grumbling would stop. There would be some good natured comments, like,  I wish I could hit it as good as that kid.  There will always be one first tee experience, I will never forget.

I was about 12 years old, and this was one our late morning arrivals. When we pulled into the parking lot, the place was packed.  My dad was just going to turn around and head back home.  Since you could walk to the edge of the parking lot, and looked down at the first tee, I begged him to at least, just look at the first tee.  When we looked down, it was a mob scene, at least 50 to 60 people. My Dad just looked at me, and said ” It’s time to go home”. We were just starting to turn back to the car, when a guy ran up to us and said ” Is it just the two of you?”.  My Dad said we were, and he explained, that he and his brother were just two, and they had nobody to join them up with, and if we hurried, we could go out right away.  Well, instead of walking back to  car, we ran, changed our shoes, and ran to the clubhouse with our bags in tow, paid, and ran to the first tee.  When people us saw walk right  down to the first tee, and immediately go to the tee box, the grumbling began.  There are two facts that need to be told, at this point.  They were remodeling the restaurant that was just beyond the parking lot,  above and to the right of the first tee.  Second, what the guy that approached us failed to say, was this was his brothers first round of golf in his life.  They wanted us to hit first and when my Dad and I hit good drives this calmed the crowd down somewhat.  The guy hit and did ok.  Then his brother got up, to hit the first golf shot of his life, in front of about 50 disgruntled golfers. My Dad and I, still did not know this. He stood up to the ball ok, with  a reasonable grip on the club.  But then, he brought the club straight up over his head, where his head was right between his arms, as some kind of God knows what, pre shot routine.  He did this not once, not twice, but three times, very slowly.  Then he took a mighty swing at the ball, and made contact, but the ball went high and to the right, disappearing  into the center of  a cement mixer, that was behind the restaurant.  I thought there might be a riot.  He went back to his bag got another ball and after doing the same pre shot routine, managed to dribble the ball off the first tee.  By the time all this took place, the group in front of us was off the green, a par 4.  As soon as he hit a few more grounders, my Dad took charge, so to speak, and started to help the guy. Of course, the first thing he eliminated was that pre shot routine.  We struggled mightily along the first hole, but because the course was so crowded, when we got to the second hole, a par 3, the group in front of us, were still putting. With my Dad’s help, the guy started to hit the ball better, and we never really fell behind.  When my Dad was alive, we always referred to this as the cement mixer shot.  More stories coming soon.

Meditation: What Would You Do?

George Floyd was killed on May 25, at approximately 8:30 pm, when arrested by the Minneapolis police, for passing a  counterfeit 20 dollar bill, at a market.  Police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, which included one minute after an ambulance had arrived. There were three other officers involved. The death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police has sparked massive protest across the United States and the world.  These protest helped lead to the arrest of all four officers, when at first it looked like they would only lose their jobs. In many cases, protest became violent with  businesses looted and vandalized. The protests are still going strong 12 days after Mr. Floyd’s death. This blog is not about the protests and what they may or may not accomplish.  The blog is not about the police, and the government response to the protests. This blog is about what would you do if you saw your loved one die like George Floyd.

What would you do, if saw your son or daughter die on video, where a policeman kneeled on their neck for 8 min and 46 secs, while they said many times I can’t breath, and pleaded for their life. What would you do if you saw your wife or significant other die with a policeman’s knee on their neck for 8 min. and 46 secs. Think about  8 min. and 46 secs. and how long of a time that is. Sit and just stare at a clock for 8 min. and 46 secs.  Then imagine  putting your knee on someone’s neck for that amount of time. Then imagine a loved one dying , for a minor non violent crime, and you watching the entire incident on video.   Then, following this horrific incident, the only thing that was done, is that this policeman, and the other officers involved, only lost their jobs.  What would you do?  I know what I would do.  I am not about to put what I would do in print, but it is something that every person needs to think about. It is an inward look to your deepest soul. It is an inward look to your deepest being.  There is no way you can prepare yourself, for such an incident.  However, it is highly unlikely that you will ever have to face such a horrific scene. It is a scene, that the family of George Floyd is facing right now, this very moment.  Will the death of George Floyd help prevent this form happening again?  Your guess is as good as mine, and quite frankly I have no idea. We are the most violent country in the world, with no end in sight.  Maybe this might end the violence, at the hands of the police. If it doesn’t, then you might have to answer that question, what would I do?