18 November 2008

Mulligans, True Friends and Fifteen

According to Wikipedia, "in golf, a mulligan is a retaken swing, usually due to a previously errant one." I first heard the phrase while playing disc golf with my friend, Dan and while I understood what it meant to us in those circumstances I didn't realize it was a widely accepted term. The only mulligan of which I knew was stew.

Last night while I was driving up North Parkway, headed home from a meeting at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, smoking a cigarette and punching buttons on the radio, I heard the beginning of Five For Fighting's "100 Years". Just as I crossed Poplar I decided I wasn't in the mood and pressed another button and landed on Rhianna's "Disturbia." Ordinarily I love the song, but at the moment it made me uncomfortable. Maybe it's because I lately feel, at times, like I am in Disturbia. Instead of forging ahead on the radio dial, something compelled me to go back to Five for Fighting. Before I got to the intersection I call "Parkway, Parkway, Trezevant, Summer" I was in tears listening to John Ondrasik's words.
I'm 15 for a moment
Caught in between 10 and 20
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are
I'm 22 for a moment
She feels better than ever
And we're on fire
Making our way back from Mars
15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live
I'm 33 for a moment
Still the man, but you see I'm a they
A kid on the way
A family on my mind
I'm 45 for a moment
The sea is high
And I'm heading into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life
15 there's still time for you
Time to buy, Time to lose yourself
Within a morning star
15 I'm all right with you
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live
Half time goes by
Suddenly you're wise
Another blink of an eye
67 is gone
The sun is getting high
We're moving on...
I'm 99 for a moment
Dying for just another moment
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are
15 there's still time for you
22 I feel her too
33 you're on your way
Every day's a new day...
15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey 15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live
It's funny sometimes how things happen and that they often have a bigger meaning than the obvious. Seems like a lot of that has been going on over the last 58 days. Oddly, the number "15" has come up more than once. The first time I heard it was during a lecture at Family Fundamentals Weekend in Knoxville. The suggestion was made that we stop growing emotionally and spiritually when we start drinking. For me, that was at age 15. So, theoretically, I am still 15 years old.

There have been other significant mentions of "15" but none as profound as the next one. A few minutes ago I got a phone call on the office line from a friend with whom I haven't talked in over fifteen years. I can't express the feelings of warmth, love and true friendship I felt when I heard the voice coming from Louisville. It's a voice I've often needed to hear but hadn't sought for many, sometimes complicated, reasons. We've made plans to reconnect, catch up and stay in touch.

Clearly there are things larger than me happening in my life right now. And for some inexplicable reason I'm ok with it -- I'm not afraid. In fact, I feel good about it and look forward to what each moment brings. Make no mistake -- there are still obstacles. I'm just choosing not to obsess about them.

What I heard last night was a divine message that I am getting a Mulligan. Not that this is the only chance I'll have to change the way I approach living -- I get that chance every day. But in my self-centered quest for complete control in pursuit of perfection I haven't typically embraced those chances for many of my days -- the better part of just over 17,000. Sure, there have been bright days filled with promise. Some of those have even been connected together for long periods of time. But I've realized that I'll never get to perfect. I've realized the fighting to get where I want has been a fight against my best interests. Thankfully there have been a handful of special people who have loved, guided, and stood by me -- in spite of me. The thing is, I have only occasionally, if ever, loved myself as they have.

This is the sort of epiphany I have been looking for since I started down this path of healing. Taking a long, hard look at myself and letting go of the preconceived notions that have kept me from growing as a husband, friend, and colleague is tough. It's tough to admit that I have been a schmuck. It's tough to admit that by pursuing my idea of what should be I haven't been as good as I can be.

In my quest to accept the things I cannot change and my resolve to embrace the courage to change the things I can I pray that I can love me for me, for better or for worse. God, I'm listening.

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