“There is nothing so stable as change.” — Bob Dylan
In our lives there isn’t much that’s predictable. The only thing we can count on for sure is that things change constantly. On many levels change is imperceptible. Thatch accumulation underneath a green surface, a tree growing a few inches at a time, a change in a belt notch or a hairline receding. The hum of daily life keeps these things in the background, hidden by our toils and troubles, joys and sorrows.
Once in a while we all experience great personal change. Death, major illness or job loss touches us and those in our immediate surroundings deeply. These changes affect everyone at some time or another, but when they occur they feel contained within the sphere of our own personal experience. Such changes can force us to evaluate our priorities and shift perspective but in the long run still largely affect ourselves and those closest to us when they occur.
Then there are the major events that affect communities in larger ways. These are usually born of tragedy, natural disasters or even small-scale war. These events have the power to mobilize, to alter structure and cause those in charge to adapt and shift priorities. But for the most part, the majority of people outside of the affected community are insulated from the ramifications of such events, because it didn’t happen to them in their backyard.
Larger still are the epic, once in a lifetime episodes that shatter everything we hold dear. These phenomena have the power to alter life as we know it on a global scale and leave a lasting cultural imprint. Those who live through such events are changed on a cellular level and their ability to adapt after the fact creates a ripple effect which lasts for generations.
We are currently in the midst of such an event. The entire world is being held hostage by the same circumstances (to varying degrees) at relatively the same time. For many of us this is an unparalleled happening for which we simply have no touchpoint. Unfortunately, many people have lived through intense suffering, but again on a more localized scale. This one is different as it is truly global, knows no geographic borders and ignores race, gender and most any variable you want to throw at it (although it does affect those economically marginalized and the elderly with a fierce unfairness due to their increased vulnerabilities).
For many of us this is an unparalleled happening for which we simply have no touchpoint.
At the moment all we can do is the best we can. We should listen to the scientists and health experts and obey the regulations they put forth. We must stay at home. But in doing so we can pour our personal resources into self care, family well being and taking care of others as safely as we are able to. When going to the grocery store feels like running the Boston Marathon it's best to keep things simple and be kind to ourselves in the process.
What can we glean from this global catastrophe? It is difficult to dive deeply while still in the midst of the crisis but within the calamity of this forced pause we can begin to glimpse the impermanence of life. Our illusion of security and stability is just that… an illusion. Such a reflection can be unnerving and scary at first but once you move to a place of acceptance, it brings with it a great measure of freedom.
Our illusion of security and stability is just that… an illusion. Such a reflection can be unnerving and scary at first but once you move to a place of acceptance, it brings with it a great measure of freedom.
Having the rug pulled out from underneath you obviously knocks you on your backside. But as you lay sprawled on the floor, how does the view change? Does this new way of seeing the world offer you a shift in perspective? Does stripping away all that you thought was important allow you to take stock in a way that until now felt virtually impossible? Using part of this time for quiet, thoughtful reflection can be a gift of immense proportions. Its lasting impact cannot be understated.
Personal reflection during unsettling times can allow latent ideas to gently bubble up to the surface. With excessive busyness almost impossible for many of us right now, the muddied waters of daily life are settling out, the silt is taking its rightful place at the bottom and soon the pool of clear water will be ripe with the possibility of new intentions.
As Greenkeepers we most likely are going to have more time than usual for reflection over the next while. We are either home with our families, maintaining our properties with a reduced staff and no golfers, maintaining the course with reduced play or doing the best we can with way too many golfers around (that’s an entirely different rant for a different day). We may spend more time than usual out doing the grounds work that we used to do before we were supers and most likely doing it alone. Use whatever time is afforded to you for kind reflection. Be it personal, course related or for the greater good of humanity, use this time to let your creativity and wellspring of inner wisdom lead you where it will. You never know what insights you might find.
Most importantly take care during this time of upheaval and disruption. Self care has never been more important than it is now. Recognize that need within yourself, your family, friends and staff. This is a human crisis which will take the best humanity has to offer each other to get us through. Kindness, compassion, love, patience, gratitude, understanding… make these your pillars and share them with as many folks as you can. Recognize that all of life is interconnected and that when this crisis passes, we are still all in this beautiful life together.
Be well, play it safe and thanks for reading.