Type to search

Life Is a Mystery: Good Shots Too Rare

Featured Health Lifestyle & Science Loves and Lives

Life Is a Mystery: Good Shots Too Rare

Avatar photo

John Michael’s newest Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise column, “Life Is a Mystery: Good Shots Too Rare,” weighs whether we are following our heads or our hearts


Life is a mystery. This world moves way too fast for me, and I move too fast in it. What the mind tells us to do, even what our mind tells us is good to do, may be far away from what the heart likes to do.

It is Spring and I am enjoying the first colors, mostly whites and pinks at this point, and the smell and beauty of the first blossoms. I showed some people some blossom pictures I took, and they asked me where the tree was. I told them they drive by it every day.

“Oh, I hadn’t noticed,” they both replied.

Far be it from me to tell people what to do, especially if it’s a cliche, but stop and smell the flowers. Look at them too, they reflect your own God-given beauty.

I was on the JV golf team as a sophomore, was never good enough to actually play in a match. But I would go to practice because I had some friends on the team. I imagine a lot of high-anxiety people can become good at golf or obsessed with it even. But I would come off the course exhausted with self-hate. Silently cussing myself for every bad shot, which was essentially all of them. Occasionally, I would surprise myself by hitting a ball high and far down the fairway. I remember feeling my body relax for a moment before it was back to the grind. But the good shots were too rare to keep me playing the game.

Far be it from me to tell people what to do, especially if it’s a cliche, but stop and smell the flowers. Look at them too, they reflect your own God-given beauty.

Looking back, I played basketball the same way, but I used the rage and self-hate to hone my game and player harder defense. Yes, I was obsessed with the game.

A friend of mine wanted to have lunch at the municipal golf course today. I got there a little before he did. So, I rented a bucket of balls, borrowed a couple of clubs, and wandered out to the driving range. My first several swings were ridiculous and I’m sure I would have been smirked at had someone been watching. I was able to eventually hit the ball well fairly consistently towards the end of the bucket. I came in for lunch with no self-hate for my miscues. Love yourself, people. It just feels better.

Our high school cross country course was at this same golf course, it was a very hilly course. I was a good enough runner to make a few varsity meets. But I had to laugh and wonder if I could ever be thin and in shape enough to even walk the course without having to stop for a breather.

I was out in Lapwai for a community dinner later this evening. These are some of my favorite evenings and at one point I thought, I am no longer lonely.

But I was helping a bunch of kids at the paint table and had a thought that shook the old psyche up a little. Still caretaking was the thought and I was like, Well, no shit, that’s what I do. I share my feelings with whomever is around, and I sat down next to this ten-year-old girl and said, “Sometimes it feels like I never know what I’m doing. You ever feel that way?” She said, “All the time.” Her response eased my heart and made me realize that kids understand a lot more than we give them credit for.

Also on The Big Smoke

I have mentioned I had a dream and some signs that I was being called to be a pastor-type figure, and it was my assumption that a pastor caretakes people. I think the idea is you can overdo for people, and they never get a chance to learn what works or what doesn’t work for themselves. We shall see over time.

I always let the kids squeeze out their own paint and the first couple of time there may be some waste. But they eventually learn how much to use. I’ve been tearing out paper for them, cleaning their brushes, and retrieving more water, something most of them can easily do for themselves.

I don’t judge my caretaking or anyone else’s, the attitude underneath is I am caring for you because I desperately need you to love me. I want to care for people because it is a loving thing to do, but not out of some secret need to be loved myself.

Plus, me overdoing it for others generally means I am under caring for myself. I saw the driving range today as an opportunity to have some fun and I’m going to take more opportunities for fun. I trust you to care for yourself and know that you can.

In the meantime, I’m going to reflect on what it really means to be a pastor. Comfort those in distress is the first thought that pops into my mind. We shall see if that is a head thought or a heart thought.


Avatar photo
John Michael

Hello, good people. I am rarely sure how to describe myself. If I say I am a Christian, many things may arise in your mind that ain't necessarily so. I was homeless for seven years and learned more about myself in that stretch of time than in any other segment of my life. I read the Bible a lot out there and came across a passage in Proverbs that has shaped my approach to life: "A man's pursuit is his kindness." I am well educated with a Master of Social Work degree and have worked a wide variety of jobs in my 52 years. None have lasted too long however. When I was homeless, the beauty of Texas wildflowers made me decide to want to live again. Along with kindness, beauty, play, and self-expression are life-guiding ideas. My shadow contains things like feeling sorry for myself, a truckload of defiance, a desperate need to please women, and no small amount of cruelty. A quote from Luke also has had a lasting effect on me: "For God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." When I read that I thought, "Hell, I have got a fighting chance." I am here to tell you, you have a fighting chance as well. Besides Christianity, practicing Buddhist and Shamanic techniques inform my relationship to God and the world.

You Might also Like