August 26, 2012

So I tried golf (and I actually like it!)

I’ve had pretty much the same hobbies since I was a teenager: reading, writing, cooking, working out, and the occasional design or arts-and-craft project.  These things have become so much of a fabric of my life that they don’t even feel like hobbies anymore; they are just what I do.  I had reached a point in life when I had met many personal goals and realized that as a result of that, I was beginning to feel listless and a little bored.  This is a time when some may decide to have a baby; I decided to take up a new hobby.  

But I didn’t want to pick up just any kind of hobby just to pass the time, to numb the everyday challenges and/or monotony of life.  I wanted something I could really sink my teeth into, to be challenged by both physically and mentally; I wanted a project that I could never quite master yet still be fulfilled by, which would stimulate me for a long time and add to my already pretty fantastic life. 

As much as I like a challenge, I had to be honest with myself about one thing:  I am a creature of comfort.  I knew that whatever new hobby I picked up had to mesh well with my need for that comfort, convenience, and physical and mental stimulation.  I also didn’t want to pick up a new hobby only to give it up. 

Golf was something I never even considered until I moved within two minutes of a golf course, and then I realized that whenever I drove by and gazed at the course the people there seemed like they were having a great time, walking the course and hitting balls in a beautiful setting either at dawn or at dusk when I happened to be driving by either to or from work.  Truth be told, I actually used to think that golf seemed like a rather boring, passive, corporate-y kind of activity.  [Sidebar: It’s funny how perspective changes everything.  This is something I am learning time and time again in life:  you have an opinion about something and then the minute your perspective changes, boom! that opinion is immediately subject to change.  It makes me think that someday I may actually like the taste of wine!  We’ll see.]

But hanging out in a beautiful setting isn’t all there is to golf, so I knew that I was going to have to swing a club once or twice before I made the decision to give the sport a shot.  (Bear in mind I had never even held a golf club before, and playing mini golf a few times in my life doesn’t count.)  Thanks to a coworker who was willing to lend me an old set he had, I was able to give it a trial run, so out I went to the driving range to hit a couple baskets of balls. 

The first time at the driving range, the majority of times (that I even hit the ball) barely exceeded a distance of 25 yards and had no lift whatsoever.  And guess what?  It was still fun!  I liked it, even though I was horrible at it.  (A good sign for me.)  The next time I practiced in my backyard and got more lift, though not much more distance.  The third time I had a lesson, and wacked it higher and straighter and in the range of 75 yards.  It felt great.  But then a week later I had another lesson with a different coach who taught me an entirely different grip, showed me that I needed to straighten one arm and bend the other, and had me doing drills that didn’t even involve hitting a golf ball, and I was back to square one.  

I'm learning that golf is not only physical, but an extremely technical and mental game, and I knew if I had any expectations from myself I would easily get frustrated.  So going into it, I gave myself one rule:  "Thou not having any expectations of thyself."  I told myself that having no expectations  would be a good experiment for me and that “being bad” at something for an undeterminable time would teach me to let go of unreasonable self-expectations, because success comes not from simply being naturally gifted at something, but from putting lots and lots of time into it.  

So, that’s my new baby:  learning golf.  A few weeks in and I’m outfitted with new clubs, a couple lessons, a cute skirt, and absolutely no skill or talent, and you know what?  I am pretty mother effing excited about it.    

August 3, 2012

Finding completeness amidst constant imperfection.

This wall hanging is a quilt my mother made for me, a design I handpicked for my favorite room in my house: a sunroom with a peaked ceiling and exposed beams, and lots of natural light seeping in from windows on the three exterior walls.  This wall is a focal point when you enter the house from the front door. Initially, there was a TV here, and for months, it made me cringe every time I walked into my house and saw it there. Something about a TV as a focal point to a house just didn’t feel right to me. It had to go.

A feeling of completeness rushed over me when I hung the quilt on the wall.  And even though the room still has more to be done to it to make it perfect in my eyes, it somehow now feels complete and settled, even with its "leftover" furniture and lack of lemon trees that are begging to be placed in the far corners of the room. 

As I reflected on the sudden completion of the room by the mere hanging of a quilt, and therefore the entire house, it occurred to me that there is something to be said for feeling complete, satisfied, and whole, even in a state of imperfection.  Perhaps it's strange to be drawing a personal parallel from one’s house, but I think our surroundings, that is, our environment, generally are a reflection of who we are as people.   

As a searcher, a perfector, a constant striver, I am always trying to take something and make it better, shinier, prettier, more perfect.  In some ways this is perhaps a good thing, but constantly pursuing perfection creates continual feelings of discontent, dissatisfaction, and lack of appreciation in ourselves, situations, and things that are always going to inherently be flawed and imperfect in some way.  But, it's a process as is everything else, and I am learning that feeling complete and attaining perfection are not mutually exclusive -- completeness is not necessarily achieved by attaining perfection.

This wall quilt, a beautiful piece of art which singlehandedly transformed my favorite room of the house, is a beautiful symbol of achieving completion amidst a state of imperfection: a reminder that satisfaction and acceptance can and should be found in our constantly flawed selves, too.

But on another note, my cat is pretty damned perfect.