Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday this year. The Mass presider’s homily by Chaplain Father Jun Sescon reminded me, again, that you learn something new everyday. On this First Sunday of Lent, also Valentine’s Day this year, I was to learn that this has always been known as Temptation Sunday. Based, of course, on Luke 1 describing Christ’s fasting in the desert with the Devil tempting him to take shortcuts to get himself out of fasting – shortcuts such as turning a stone into bread so that he wouldn’t go hungry.
We are exposed to temptations (limited, for now, to false thinking) every day – including days spent in the golf course. Here, our desire to achieve a better game tempts us to take shortcuts seeking to find a sense of (false) confidence.
“You raised me. You are the voice in my head. Not Mom. Not Dad. You.” Little brother (Adam Driver) tells big sister (Tina Fey). These lines are taken from a seemingly unrelated recent film “This is Where I Leave You” where two siblings are talking heart to heart.
And so that phrase “The voice in my head” ought to tie the first two paragraphs together.
Now try asking yourself “Who is the voice inside your head?” Or more specifically dear Brother Golfer, “Who is the voice inside your head whilst on the fairways?” No matter what your pro says, no matter which web article you read or whichever YouTube video you saw, the thing that you hear as you make your swing is the voice inside your head – that is the voice you follow.
We all have our favorite voices talking to us. Call this ego. Call this temptation disguised as swing thoughts. For instance: The voice that says “You won last game. You can repeat those same swings from last time and you will win again.” (No. Not all the time). “You deserve to win this time.” (Not really. Entitlement to victories is earned rather than deserved).
You can see that these voices are much like the devil’s voice tempting Christ to jump down from high cliff and guaranteeing he will not get hurt. A golfer’s voices would perhaps be remnants of a “you tube” video swing lesson. Or perhaps the voice of your golf pro who has a different physique than yours, whose advice had actually made your swing worse rather than better. False promises and predictions, perhaps false confidence.
Back to that same movie and same scene, I will now quote the completed conversation script: “You are the voice in my head. Not Mom. Not Dad. You. . . And sometimes I wish it would shut up!”
That voice that you want to shut up is the same one present inside a golfer’s head. Your head, or my head, for example. This voice is not easy to silence since the brain actually “hears” these voice thoughts –just as clearly as if someone is talking to us. Lucky (or fortunate) are those of us who are able to filter the correct ones we should hear and not the temptingly comforting ones we should ignore.
Best way to silence these voices? Perhaps the same way as maintaining one’s Faith through prayers, prayers, prayers and practice, practice, practice. Swing practice, especially in practice games. For me, they are indeed the “prayer times” of golfing life. “To Thine own self be true” from words wrongly alluded to Scripture but actually spoken by Hamlet (Shakespeare). BCBP’s “Be Honest” – to yourself. You and only you can assess yourself properly. And if I need to assign the source of that bad voice as the evil one, so be it.
This is my own way of living a golfing life stuck with an official website Index of 29, sometimes 30. This will be the umpteenth time I am writing about consistent regular practice time and fairway time. I firmly believe there is no other way to improve and strengthen your game (be it golf or life). Practice time as regular as prayer time.
There are no shortcuts to this. It is like the perhaps the real life version of the temptation of Jesus in the desert when the devil tempted Him to take a shortcut by turning the stone into bread or jumping off a cliff. We have to discern the temptation.
In my favorite CLP talk “Growing in the Spirit” we go through a series of steps/stages moving from darkness to light after our baptism. Prayers keep us more consistently in the light in a better state of grace. Practice then keeps us more consistently in a state of improvement that is hopefully and prayerfully better than average.
Practice is the best way for us to know by instinct if that voice we hear at that moment is the right one to listen to. Perhaps it is the best way to achieve what Shakespeare (not Scripture) was saying : To thine own self be true.” Or the even better way is the Brotherhood way: “Be Honest” … especially to yourself.