When something goes wrong in the human world the comforting words of “everything happens for a reason” resonate through the heart. It’s a warming sensation that says, “it’s ok to be.” I also know that there is plenty of pushback or hold outs when it comes from this kind of deep think. Well, just go to the next paragraph then and get to the meat. In my continued introspection there are so many examples of this cliché I could fill a novel, of course it would have to be fiction to protect the innocent.
Ever think about what would have happened if you turned left instead of right that “one time.” As you read this, think back to times that didn’t make sense and how it relates to where you are today. It will make sense if you look hard enough. The divine puzzle has a tendency to put itself together.
I literally was lost. Circa, guess-timated Spring 2002; I head out from my apartment to find a golf course in order to fill out an application and leave my resume. I didn’t have a map app, so I was forced to write down the directions. I wrote them wrong. I pulled up to Stone Creek Golf Course in Phoenix Arizona confused. “This is not Orange Tree,” I thought. I went inside, hoping the golf pro might have directions. This young man with blue eyes took the time to write down directions to the other club. As I was leaving, I posted up on one leg, spun around and said, “you guys have any openings?” To this very day, I have no idea why I said this. Perhaps I was desperate for a paycheck or maybe it was something bigger. I would spend the next 5ish years in uniform at this place trying to figure that out.
Jimmy. He worked the golf shop counter and quickly became a great friend to me. He was one of the only people that knew every detail of my life, took the time to know me. I tell the painful story of his death in other blog posts, so I won’t do that in this one. I can hear the inner pessimist say, “If you would have found Orange Tree, you wouldn’t have befriended Jim and your pain wouldn’t have existed.” That was the talk of a broken man, an unrealized man. I now know that having had him in my life, as briefly as it was, has made me a better person and our friendship along with a cast of other characters made stories that are still told today. His life had purpose. What if it was someone else at the counter that day? Would I have turned around?
With Jimmy’s death I hit a rock bottom. I’m familiar with it down there, so it was no surprise. This part of the story is something not a lot of people have heard, I can count on only a few fingers. Here I go, risking vulnerability. After Jimmy was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I didn’t spend too much time in our apartment (room mates at that point). I spent a lot behind a bar. There was a particular night that put me over the edge. I bellied up for a few hours then decided I had enough, like forever enough. A few weeks earlier I rolled my ankle and Jim gave me a Vicodin that he had from an old prescription. Well, I knew where that bottle was. I went to the apartment, grabbed the bottle (18ish pills), walked to a local park, sat on a bench and ingested the entire bottle. I didn’t know if it was enough to kill me, but I was willing to find out. I laid myself down for the last time. At exactly 8:08 the next morning I woke up. Covered in my own vomit, I got up and went home. I laid in bed for 3 days after that, thinking “why did I wake up?” It’s a question that has been tucked in the back of my grey matter since and the other day, with some deep thought, I think I have an answer. I’m a side sleeper. I sleep on my belly too but imagine a park bench, perfect for side sleeping. I passed out from alcohol and then my body rejected those pills before they could irreversibly damage my organs. Had I slept on my back, your reading someone else’s post tonight. Just now, as in a couple days ago, I asked the revealing question that I never had, “why am I a side sleeper?” Everything that you are as an adult comes from your childhood, unless you change it. My mother used to work late shifts at her bar. It always worried me and I would wait up for her late at night. I would lie on my side and wait to hear the garage door open, then I would flip over to my other side facing the wall because she would always poke her head in to check on me. I didn’t want her to know/worry that I was awake late. I then would have a sense of relief and my brain would shut down… on my side I slept. Over a couple decades later, my mom unknowingly saved my life. Let that wash over you for a moment. Reason.
Some of the greatest friendships materialized in between painful moments at that job. I would befriend a man that grew up just a few miles from my hometown, didn’t even know he was there. He remains a person that always checks in, no matter what. Those are rare in “these days.” I would caddy for an instructor in a local US Open Qualifier. We didn’t advance past that local but We would however go on to work in 2 Senior Opens, a PGA Tour Event, half a dozen National Championships and so many qualifier and one day events I can’t count. Along that golf road our friendship has grown mighty. He’s going to be in Napa next weekend and for the first time in our relationship, I set him up with golf. We will celebrate his birthday but underneath I will be celebrating the wrong turn I made all those years ago and being a side sleeper. Thanks Mom. My adventure continues! Have you thought of any instances where a “mere coincidence” changed your path forever? Everything happens for a reason. It’s ok to be.
Of course there is soooooooooooo much more detail to these stories but I’m saving most of it. Cheers.