I’m not doing too well right now. Things are bad. I’m worried the boat I bought is too small.
I was reminded of this line last week when my friend Graham and I were comparing notes about deficiencies in our golf game. I said I hated when I stubbed a chip shot and moved the ball only a few inches and usually into deeper rough. He said that was “the worst thing ever.”
“Worse than living in Syria?”
“Much, much worse.”
Of course you don’t have to go too far from home to find people worse off than yourself. There are people living only miles from me (or maybe on my street) enduring poverty, physical and mental illness, addiction, broken homes, abuse and heartache that I can barely imagine, let alone relate to. And, of course, to be black, brown, gay or in any way different than straight, white and Christian brings with it a host of problems that are glaringly obvious to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with current affairs in this country.
When it comes to tennis I have a very legitimate complaint about my backhand. It’s not as strong as my forehand or my serve and my opponents often hit shots to my backhand to test me. It gives me fits. I have taken several lessons (not cheap at $65/hour) to fix the problem and am slowly making progress. In recent matches I have actually hit a few backhand winners!
The line about my boat being too small came from an episode of Modern Family. But in all seriousness, the last few days I have been carefully plotting how to buy a new Titleist 915F 3-wood. I just discovered the 3-wood I‘ve owned for six years has a regular flex shaft. I need a stiff flex shaft because I am likely missing 30 yards of carry by having a club deficient for my abilities. That’s really wasteful. I am not lying or exaggerating when I tell you I have given more thought and energy to this problem in the last day than I have to any other concern.
Every year during Lent I subscribe to a daily email feed from my former church, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in New York. I like these daily reminders of other people’s stories and struggles with life and faith. They are calming and centering, which is a phrase I’ve never used but seems appropriate here because I feel myself righted a little when I read them, like a foundering boat. Every little bit helps.
Earlier this week a woman wrote about prayer and how she felt her life was in God’s hands. I have a problem with this, not with her believing that because everyone’s faith is different, but the idea that God cares about people who pray more than he cares about people who don’t. When I hear professional athletes thank God for victory or fans say God was on their side, it jolts. I’m no theologian, but I just don’t get that God cares about the result of a fucking football game, but he lets a three-year-old Syrian boy wash up drowned on a Turkish beach because he was trying to escape a war-torn hellhole for a better life. Or that God doesn’t intervene in any of the other unimaginable horrors going on in the world right now, but he has time to ensure it doesn’t rain during the church picnic.
Did I mention I’m pissed to the point of distraction because I’m afraid the boat I bought is too small?
Seriously, there’s a cooler I really want to buy—the Yeti Tundra 45. Yeti is the Louis Vuitton of coolers and if Yeti made handbags the truly haute couture would all carry them. The Yeti is so far and away superior to the Coleman we have now I can’t even think straight. The Yeti will keep ice frozen for three days minimum and sometimes up to a week. One day in the Coleman and I’m pouring out tepid water the next day. The Yeti is just $349.99 and I have one in an online shopping cart right now.
Sometimes I fantasize about being the type of person that downgrades every aspect of their life so they can give more to people with less. Then I snap out of it.
“I’m not an orgy guy,” he says.
“Are you crazy?” screams George. “It’s like discovering plutonium.”
“Don’t you know what it means to become and orgy guy?” Jerry says. “It changes everything. I’d have to dress different. I’d have to act different. I’d have to grow a mustache and get all kinds of robes and lotions and I’d need a new bedspread and new curtains and I’d have to get thick carpeting and weirdo lighting. …Naw, I’m not ready for it.”
Likewise, I don’t think I’m cut out to be selfless. It would take some adjustment. I’d have to eat organic, take up yoga, reduce my carbon footprint and wear hemp clothing. I already own Birkenstock sandals, but only because they’re really comfortable.