Inspired by a Golfer

I am not a golfer.  I have played a few rounds, at the request of friends who understand that games, including golf, are for fun, and who are willing to laugh at themselves and, especially, at me.  I had a few decent shots and understand why others love the game.  Nailing it just right feels pretty good.  Nonetheless, I haven’t picked it up.  I think the idea of acquiring more equipment for yet another activity turned me off.

So I was surprised this afternoon to be inspired by a golfer.  I was listening to NPR’s Fresh Air.  The host was interviewing John Feinstein, author of the new book Are You Kidding Me?  The tale is about the 2008 US Open challenge to Tiger Woods by Rocco Mediate, a low-ranking golfer who almost beat the best golfer in the world.  He didn’t beat Tiger Woods in the end, but the story is pretty amazing.

Mediate was ranked 158th in the world and had to earn a spot in the US Open in a qualifier.  At the end of a 36-hole tournament he made it through an eleven-man tie to get into the Open, with only 156 others.  Then he stayed at or near the top until he and Tiger Woods were tied.  They had to play an 18-hole tie-breaker to determine the winner.  At the end of that it came down to the last hole.  Tiger Woods had to make a put to win.  Which he did.

The amazing part of all this is, of course, that someone so obscure in a professional sport could come so close to beating someone so well-known for being so good.  The really amazing part of this is that Rocco Mediate had battled injuries and health problems.  He was known as someone who was really good when he was healthy, that qualifer being pretty important.

Here is how I was inspired.  Last summer I trained for the Vermont 50.  I pulled a muscle and had to stop running.  This spring I started training again.  Then I busted my toe and had to stop running.  But Rocco Mediate lost to Tiger Woods by one stroke after being a good golfer sometimes for years and years.  He kept a good attitude, a sense of humor, and never gave up.  He kept playing.

So why should I give up?  I only decided to start training again for the 50 last spring.  I am just about ready to run again.  I will need to pick things up from the beginning again but so what?  Maybe I can’t run the 50 this fall but what about next year?  I just need to be persistent.  I just need to get back into it and keep at it.  I don’t need to win.  I don’t even need to come one stroke away from winning.  Heck, I would pleased to be ranked 158th.

So, thanks, Rocco.  I am hoping this weekend to get out for my first run in just over a month.  I appreciate your story.  I will think of it when I need to get out there on those cold and wet days.  And then I will get out there and run.

Children on Inauguration Day

Yeah, yeah.  I watched the inauguration like everyone else.  Let me tell you, I was inspired as all get out.  It was a double whammy of goodness.  First, Bush is finally out of office and he can’t get back in even with the Supreme Court on his side.  I mean, how could you not be happy about that?  The reign of incompetence has come to an end.  Watching his (tax-payer funded, can we please get this guy off the public trough?) helicopter carry him away from the capital, it was a sight of joy.

Second, we get a smart, eloquent, thoughtful individual into the White House.  After eight years of “I go with my gut cause God speaks to me through my gut,” that is a relief, let me tell you.  But we don’t just get someone who isn’t dumb, we get a leader who cares and gets it and understands he can make mistakes and can talk about and think about it.  Obama is going to do a great job.  He makes me believe that change really is possible.  Guessing by the number of people on the Mall today, I don’t think I am the only one.

But the point here.  I met my daughter as she got off the bus and the two of us went to pick up her brother.  Once we gathered him up, the three of us got in the car to head home.  As we pulled out, National Public Radio rebroadcast Obama’s speech from earlier in the day.  The first thing that happened was that my daughter said, “Daddy, can you turn this up?”  A little while later, my son, who wanted to hear about Barack Obama, said “This guy isn’t talking about Barack Obama.”  My daughter’s response:  “That’s cause this is Barack Obama.”

All that was good stuff.  I was happy that they were paying attention and might just understand some of what they heard and maybe even remember this day.  But here is the best part:  they actually paid attention.  They were looking out the windows but listening.  Maybe it was just Obama’s tone, but they were rapt.  I’m thinking if I want to get their attention in the future I can just play back this speech and they will start listening and then I can just slowly fade it out and start talking and all of a sudden they will be paying attention to me and they will do whatever I want just like I was the brain from outer space with my secret zombie army that will do whatever I command.

This is a historical day.  I want my children to remember it.  I wish I could just command them to remember it but I do not have the power of the space traveling brain and, as far as I know, they are not zombies.  So I will have to trust to more conventional means, like talking about it and listening to what they have to say about it.  Obama, in his speech, mentioned the importance of  “a parent’s willingness to nurture a child” to the fate of the nation.

I’m on it.  With these kids, it will be easier than it might.  As I write they are marching about the house chanting “O O Obama, O O Obama.”  I guess I get inspired more than once today.