“Want to golf around the house?” my friend asked.
“What?” I asked, wondering if I had misheard him. We were standing in my kitchen. I had my back to the sink and he was facing me, looking over my shoulder out the window. We were about to start making dinner.
“You said you weren’t hungry yet. I have some clubs in my car. Come on,” he urged me.
“Golf?” I asked, laughing, “What made you think of that?”
“Seeing the grass,” he said, leading me by the hand outside to his car. He pulled two clubs from his golf bag and opened a package of balls. Both dogs and the cat had followed us out. Hank and Charlie were wagging their tails, faces all smiles at the unexpected boon of an evening activity. Sugar pretended indifference, but gave herself away when she playfully darted across the lawn.
“You’ll have to show me how. I don’t think I’ve held a club since I was a kid,” I told him.
He rearranged my hands in the correct grip and said, “Keep your left arm straight and your right elbow loose. Bend your knees so the top of the club is pointing at your belt buckle. Now keep your eye on the ball.” I started to lift the club to swing. “Wait! Hold on,” he said, quickly replacing the ball with a tuft of grass. “Practice a swing first. We don’t need to break a window.” He smiled at me, his blue eyes twinkling with humor. I turned my gaze back down at the target, swung, and grass flew up. “That’s good,” he said approvingly. “Someone must have taught you to swing.” I looked up at him and thought achingly of my father.
I don’t surprise easily. My analytical mind tends to play out all the different scenarios in my life to their most likely conclusion, and I plan accordingly. I’m not so comfortable with the “wait and see” approach. Whether from an inherited genetic predisposition, or due to the environments in which I have lived doesn’t really matter. It just means that I can usually see what’s coming. But lately I have found the unexpected occurring in my life, and it’s been overriding my tendency.
As we begin to play golf, the animals accompanying us like eager fans across the lawn, a feeling I almost don’t recognize steals over me. The late afternoon sun bathes my skin in a warm glow and the sound of leaves rustling from the giant old trees lining the property is transporting me back in time to a moment of utter contentment. When I would lie on my back and swing in our hammock, gazing up through three hundred foot tall poplars, their bright green branches brushing a sky so blue the colors seemed as saturated as Crayola crayons. Cradled by that dirty white rope, one bare foot hanging over the edge to push against the ground, my hand would stroke the head of my dog back and forth in time with my swing. That sense of peace was somehow being evoked in the spontaneous game we now played in my garden.
Maybe my mind has been so busy filtering data that it hasn’t allowed any room for surprises. I’ve been focused on outcomes instead of processes, problem solving as a survival tactic. But something else is happening now. I hooked the next shot and the ball barely missed Sugar, sitting regally on the stone wall, before landing in the gutter. The cat gave me a measuring look, and then nonchalantly began to lick her paw. My friend and I both burst out laughing.
I have no idea what’s coming next, but for the first time in a very long time, that uncertainty is no longer creating anxiety in me. Instead, I feel possibility.