I came to a realization this week that is difficult to accept; I am no longer the golfer I once was. MS has destroyed many things in my life and created many new opportunities for my future. One of the things destroyed is my ability to function on the golf course. I am no longer capable of maintaining the energy level necessary to play 18 holes of golf. My hands do not have the strength to control the club face which allows me to control the ball. And my legs and hips do not cooperate the way they did just one year ago. There was a time when I was proficient on the golf course and could manage to shoot low scores without much, if any, practice, but those days have passed. Golf has been my life for the last 24 years and it has been a great ride. Admitting that I am not what I used to be is very difficult, especially when the main reason is related to a disease that I refuse to acknowlege controls any part of my life. This little episode got me thinking about life, getting older and unavoidable realities.
I have the privilege of talking with a lot of readers via email about life, love, jobs, lack of jobs, happiness, success stories, etc. And I know that there are moments when we all think about our lives and wonder where the time went. You see pictures from your past and are unable to recognize who the “you” in the photo was or is. I no longer recall what the 18 year old Danny thought and when I see photos of him it is as if the foggy memory becomes clear for a split second. But, when the photos are not present my memories are like a hazy dream that I recall bits and pieces of, but don’t remember all the details. Thinking about our past ultimately brings us to thoughts of the here and now. Things we’ve accomplished, failed relationships, career advancements and the type of person that we have become. And like my golf game many of us come to the realization that something that once was, is no longer, and the person we are now fails to measure up to the person we thought we would be.
Disappointment, regret, depression accompany these types of realities. And some carry this realization, along with the depression, regret and disappointment, for years without mentioning it to a soul. Just your little secret, your little badge of shame. “How did I get where I am now? And how in the world did I end up as I am?” And the weight of the disappointment becomes so heavy over time and the belief that no change can be made drives the depression deeper and deeper, until you believe that this is how things will be forever. And it is in this mindset that many people exist. “This is who I am and this is who I will always be.”
There is one fact that some forget: you can change. Life is not over until you take that last breathe and until that moment occurs there is opportunity for improvement. I was once told that “if you sound like a duck, walk like a duck and look like a duck…you’re a duck, so stop trying to be something you’re not.” And I listened to that and believed it for many years and it was awful advice. Just because you’ve never operated your own business does not mean you cannot become an entrepreneur. Having no experience in cutting hair does not mean you can’t become a stylist. And just because you think you are a failure or disappointment does not mean you cannot find success!! Sometimes life doesn’t work out according to our plan and some perspectives might see that as failure. But what if you are judging your story as completed when actually you are only at the halfway point? Dead ends and detours simply change which roads will lead you to your own personal success so don’t get discouraged. You are fully capable of reinventing yourself if you so choose. Age, lack of education, physical limitations, financial limitations all may make the process more difficult, but never impossible.
If you are tired and worn out from carrying the burden of self-disappointment, then pull yourself together and decide to change. Sometimes life is hard, sometimes things don’t work out as we planned and sometimes bad things happen to really good people. But, if you are still breathing, the narrative is still being written. In Texas Holdem poker there is a saying, “a chip and a chair.” Which means as long as I have one chip and I’m at the table I still have a chance to win. If you wake up tomorrow morning, then you have a chip and a chair. Are you all-in or do you fold?
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With a lighter burden…Dream Big, Dream Often.