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Coughing Up the “Kool-Aid”

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”   I’ve read and heard these words here and there and in the interest of accurate attribution, I searched the internet where I found a 2005 paper by Michael St. George titled, “The Survival of a Fitting Quotation.”  Michael St. George writes that William Paley (1743-1805) communicated the basic thought reflected in the above verbiage.  Over time, commentators addressing subjects ranging from Easter to chiropractic repeated that verbiage as their own.

stockvault-golf134731 Good maxims have legs in terms of longevity and speaking of legs, confirmed non-golfers often quote Mark Twain as saying, “golf is a good walk spoiled.”  Internet sources confirm: Mark Twain did say this; Mark Twain did not say this; and no one can prove one way or the other that Mark Twain did or did not say this.  Maybe Samuel Clemens said it.  Prior to 2015, my own thoughts concerning golf reflected ignorance rooted in contempt prior to investigation.

If indeed, as I have read in AARP Magazine, Scientific American Mind and other places, changing one’s walking route helps create new neural pathways in the brain, golf serves very well to complicate a walk. Golf requires focused brainpower.  Much mind-body coordination involves itself in getting the ball from the tee to the hole.   

This past summer, I read three handbooks on golf.  My study of these books led to many minutes spent in front of the TV torqueing my torso in folded arm twists in the hopes of establishing muscle memory.  I can honestly report that I now efficiently fold my arms and turn from the waist at ninety-degree angles while I watch Jeopardy.  The results when I actually swing a golf club down toward a teed ball suggest I might not be as efficient on the course and that reality challenges my equanimity.  Yoga helps with that.  Yoga helps with golf.

Yoga involves stretching muscles, tensing muscles and releasing muscles held in tension.  Yoga challenges and improves balance. Golf requires balance.  I began practicing yoga years ago and devoted myself to a more regular practice after suffering a concussion.  A doctor told me yoga would relax my system and help the brain heal; he suggested I might start remembering things.  This sounded like a good thing.  Still, most old damage involves scarring.  Scars constrict.

Challenges on the golf course trigger feelings rooted in other situ

The body remembers what the mind might not.  Many people still believe the mind is separate from the body even though it is clear that all of what is in our minds, entered through our senses.  We learn from our own experience but we also learn from others, drinking plenty of the proverbial “Kool-Aid” along the way.  We drink different flavors, some sweet and some bitter, and some of it under duress. yoga-20647

Outside pressure delivered to the brain affects the mind.

Golfing involves mental control.  The golfer must set the ball, visually follow the ball, select the proper club and get over it when a shot goes awry. There is always another shot.

Golf is good practice for letting go and we all have things we need to let go.  I am assuming, and maybe I should not assume, prior to some investigation, that I am not alone in having had my head examined.   Many more of us are getting our heads examined one way or another.  Diagnoses often lead to lifestyle changes.  I decided to take my first walk on a golf course when I began to accept that I could no longer get my endorphin fix from jogging because I can no longer jog.  Prior to this, when I started jogging, I jogged as a substitute for inline skating, an activity that I felt I should maybe try to live without.  Skating and jogging require focused attention if one is to avoid injury.  Walking seemed a safer way of keeping my cardio-vascular system fit and relieving stress. I felt bored.  I quickly learned how to stress up a walk by ruminating about things I cannot change.  There are many ways to stress up a walk.   

Golf is moving meditation.  This meditation led to my awareness that I drank two servings of “Kool-Aid” first by believing what Mark Twain said just because he said it, and second by believing that Mark Twain said anything just because someone told me so.

There are, of course, worse flavors of “Kool-Aid” to have to regurgitate.

Happy November!

Debra Merryweather