Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is it dawn?

It's night-time again in America.

It is the deep of a long, dark, and moonless night. We the people are in bed, wandering in that anxious zone between sleeping and waking, shoulders tensed and covers pulled high against the cold, still, steady drizzle that seems to have had no beginning and will have no end. Strange dreams prod our restlessness, filling us with dread, a loss of control, and futility.

A night creature's howl drones in the distance, constant, a fog-enveloped reminder and enforcer of the worries of this wet, endless night.  A toss, a turn; it is tuned out.  We do our best to ignore it in our distressed slumber.

But then a retaliatory shriek rends the silent fog.  It is defensive, but strong, repelling the nocturnal attack and calling for aide.  Replies echo through the mossy woods from all directions.  At first one, then two, then five.  Clearly a battle has begun.  They are on the move, closing the circle, fighting as one.

The night creature's threatening howl changes; it wails once in empty defiant insistence, then again in confusion, then is drowned by the growing defenders. It wails again in harrowed, comprehending fear and seeks its own shelter.

In America, there is a change in the sky.  The rain stops.  The fog dissipates. Dawn's deep blue diffuses and spreads to replace the black of the dark night.

Is it dawn?

In our beds we awaken.  Our heads are clear.  The darkness and the howling were simply that, nothing more.  Our walls and our roofs, built to protect, have stood against the night and kept us safe.  The darkness threatened, but it could never really reach us.

And so we dress, head downstairs for coffee, unlock our doors, and step into the light of the rising sun for a deep breath of cool fall air tasting of leaves and frost and clarity.

We go to work as never before in our country's history.  May we, in four years, be able to recognize and repeat this prayer to liberty:

Thank you, Senator Cruz, for shocking the press by standing up to them.  Thank you for waking up our candidates and our country.

Thank you, Senator Rubio, for reminding us that Americans can fight, even fail sometimes, and can still succeed. 

Thank you, Dr. Ben Carson, for civilly challenging the intolerant scourge of political correctness  masquerading as sensitivity yet wielded as a hammer.

Thank you, Carly Fiorina, for calling for accountability in the public sector matching the scrutiny of the private, and for explaining what cony capitalism is and how big government fosters it.  May Hillary's nightmares come true.

Thank you, Donald Trump, for negotiating a merciful end to the false premises of this clown-show the media calls a debate.

Thank you, Governor Christie, for bringing issues of import to the table and explaining that ideas can be both good and different.

Thank you, Dr. Rand Paul, for seeking a government so small you can't see it, and for simply articulating that the one thing on which you shouldn't have price controls is money itself.

Thank you John Harwood, Carl Quintanilla, and Becky Quick, for being so rude that you've even offended people in New Jersey.  You've woken up the sleeping power that is America.

Huck, Jeb, John, your tee-time is in fifteen minutes.  Please report to the starter.I'm pretty sure we'll be able to get you a fourth.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Quarter 'Til

Quarter 'Til

When I was young our house was filled with clocks
Pendulums, banjos, grandfathers and mothers, the works
In that time we tracked our time
With ticks and tocks and a hammer-struck chimes
Top of the hour, half past too, quarter past, and quarter 'til
Ticked away by strike and rolling ring

But now we sit in front of screens
Flashing pop ups remind us of things
Our cell phones buzz, our tablets sing
Interrupted, snoozed; reminded, dismissed
Trains of thought have left the station
Forever derailed, our conentration

We need real clocks: ticks with tocks
We need mechanical works to guide our work
We're not calibrated for minute by minute
Though time is eternal, let's work within it
Give us simple markers of the times we've filled
...Like quarter past and quarter 'til

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Eighty One

Yesterday, 23 odd years into seriously pursuing golf as a hobby, and 2 years into seriously pursuing lessons on the swing from a knowledgeable teacher,* everything came together and I shot an 81.

81 is not a spectacular round of golf.  81 is just two strokes away from the generally accepted milestone of breaking 80, which generally makes an 81 heart-breaking.  81 means at least 9 over depending on the par for the course, and implies a healthy number of bogies, double-bogies, or worse.

81 is a spectacular round of golf when, for the previous decade, your scores have hovered around 93, dipped to the occasional 90 (not quite breaking 90 is similar torture to not quite breaking 80), and have ballooned above 100 more often than not.  Shooting a solid 12 strokes better than any round so far this year, and 15 strokes better than a week ago... well, that's a breakthrough.

Natanis Tomahawk Course, October 7, 2015

Golf is mentally exhausting.  Every** shot requires focus, faith, and execution.  Successes have to be instantly recalled for that focus; failures have to be quickly acknowledged and then forgotten.  Because now it's time for the next shot.

Golf hurts your feet.  It's not just walking 4-6 miles during a round, it's the role the feet and legs play as the foundation of the swing, from putt to chip to driver. You use your feet, be it 60 balls at the range or 18 holes on a course.

Golf is German-engineered.  Way too many factors and components, physical and mental, are involved in a swing.  When they are all tuned and firing correctly, a golf shot has an unbelievably smooth, schnik-schnik feeling.  When something is off, just a bit, that steering wheel vibrates in your hand as you go down the road.

Golf rewards.  It is a series of plateaus rising into the distance, with tough climbs and the occasional slide into a valley.  My 81, 15 strokes better than a week ago, is a reward.  It's confirmation that it can be done, and that the plateau has been reached.  You can't shoot 81 and fail to repeat that feat.  Golf knowledge accumulates.

There will be more 93s, but there will also be 84s, 80s, 77s, and, ultimately, a 72.

Par for the course.

* Rawn Torrington, T's golf in Manchester, Maine.  An hour lesson a week with serious range time afterward

** Every, every, every stroke is a massive mental-construction project.  Tap-ins can be missed.  Chips can be flubbed.  Don't rush for any reason.