The Quality of the Present Moment

Deepak Chopra got Retweeted by someone I follow on Twitter:

The quality of the present moment is all that matters so make it joyous.

Yeah, sure, Deepak.

But then I got to thinking about it and I remembered all those moments when I was deeply enmeshed in the moment, whether it was a golf shot, my writing or staring into my wife’s eyes in a moment of clarity.

And all of those things have the same thing in common: when you look back at them, there is this sort of subdued, tremulous joy that was present. Same thing when you’re come up for air after five hours in a really good book…when you come out of the movie theater after becoming lost in a thoroughly engrossing movie…when you walk out of the restaurant after an unpretentiously exquisite meal and conversation. They were enjoyable.

But what if they were just satisfying? What if it was spending hours deeply entrenched in your tax return to finally wrap it up? Who likes doing taxes? But to be able to invest yourself so completely in something and then walk away satisfied that you’ve done the task well, still gives you the buzz even if it was an unpleasant task.

I kind of have that feeling every time I have to take five hours to drain, clean and re-fill my spa…or hand sand, stain and seal my garage door…or put together documentation for a re-finance on the house…or go through the “orderly” piles in my office so that I can finally see the floor again.

None of these things are particularly pleasant to do, but the combination of the complete absorption in the task and the resultant satisfaction with their completion does bring joy.

And it’s true for golf too. It was scorching hot in Scottsdale Friday, so when I arrived at the Cochise/Geronimo clubhouse to hit balls around 9:30, I witnessed the strangest sight I’d ever seen in thirteen years of living at Desert Mountain: the parking lot was virtually empty. The staff told me there were five golfers on Cochise.

So I spent a quality twenty minutes on the putting green until the lubricant was back in my stroke and I couldn’t miss a six-footer.

Then I spent twenty minutes hitting high flop shots to a tight pin over the practice bunker…off a tight lie. I finally honed in on just the right amount of arm speed for the forward ball position and open clubface that I’d chosen. Same thing with the two dozen bunker shots.

Then I moved on to the back of the range for full swing practice. It wasn’t until I got mid-way through my sand wedge shots at a 90 yard flag that I saw the first person back down on the front of the range. And it wasn’t until I was mid-way through my 3-wood practice that I saw the second one when he joined me up top.

I go into all of this detail to sort of set the stage for the level of absorption I achieved. I hadn’t touched a club in ten days, so there were more than a few of all those shots that didn’t work out. But I never got upset, I never started talking to myself, I never exclaimed out loud. The impulse just never struck me. Because I was just in it.

I was so in it that by the time I got to my driver, the other guy took a seat on the bench behind me and we struck up a conversation punctuated  by my golf swings. And I was able to compartmentalize the conversation from the driver swings. Something like: yappity-yap, yappity-yap, yappity-yap…settling stillness…smash! went the driver…yappity-yap, yappity-yap…

And then I was done. I spread sand in my divot square, lugged the bag to the cart and headed down to the front of the range and the clubhouse beyond.

By then it was noon, a dozen or so golfers had magically appeared, I was back up into everyday consciousness and all was right with the world.

And even though the practice had not gone perfectly, driving back to the house, I was reflecting back on the enjoyment my immersion had brought me. And with that, a warm sense of satisfaction.

And Deepak’s Tweet made me think of all of that.

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2 Responses to The Quality of the Present Moment

  1. jim rifkin says:

    Bill , you have a devoted fan here in Colorado , and I need to let you know how much I enjoy your thoughts on golf and life, in general..yesterday, I spent two magical hours by myself on the river trout fishing, never thinking about anything other than the beauty of the river and the presentation of my fly..it was almost, in reflection, as though I was in a trance…even when I was landing the first of several large Browns…keep writing…JIM