Musings from the Gilly Pad

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Idol of Peace: Kevin Na and the Irony of the Waggles

If you watched The Players Championship, you know an underlying storyline was that of Kevin Na. He went into the final round leading the toughest playing field in the PGA. The focus wasn't about the magic he made happen when his club struck the ball, but of his habit before he could hit the ball. Kevin Na waggles. He waggles and waggles and waggles. Think: shimmies and false starts (hang with me, I'm going somewhere with this). Na admits he has trouble pulling the trigger, and in countless interviews apologized for his problem. The media and a few redneck spectators with ZERO GOLF ETIQUETTE were ridiculous. Fortunately (if you have any perspective at all), this isn't the type of personal obsession/addiction that other athletes deal with privately...or secretly. Unfortunately, however, this young athlete is fighting his demons in front of millions, live!

It's typical for commentators to analyze everything about a golf swing, but not to be condescending and disrespectful. Obviously, Johnny Miller was bothered by Na's waggles. It was as if he took it personally. Miller's frustration rose to a level of anger that revealed itself through his condescending tone. "Yeah, the grass is really loud," was Miller's comment when Na backed off a shot because of a noise in the gallery, insinuating that Na takes so long that we're watching the grass grow while he's waggling. Shame on you, Johnny Miller! I totally understand both sides of the coin. It's difficult for players to play with someone who has little tics that can alter their own game. "Do You Like Everything about Yourself?" is one of my personal favorite posts. You'll see why Ben Crane is my fav on tour! Honestly, the excessive waggling is uncomfortable to watch. Although Miller's comment was completely inappropriate and unprofessional, it was indicative of the discomfort that many were experiencing.
I met Ben Crane at The Players!

Why do we get so frustrated, even angered, that the waggles or tics of another make us uncomfortable? Witnessing reactions to the "waggling" problem, I learned something about myself and about us modern western individuals. We're so accustomed to living a lifestyle of comfort, convenience, pleasure, peace, and security, that "being uncomfortable" is foreign to us. We'd rather NOT be bothered by anything or anyone that may result in an experience of discomfort. We may justify that we're "protecting our boundaries," but it's really more about "DO NOT DISTURB ME... BECAUSE YOU WILL ANNOY ME!" We don't like the inconvenience of other people's tics. They invade our own emotions, time, energy, agenda, and schedule. The fundamental problem we have with the waggles, is actually our problem of not knowing how to deal with discomfort and our own insecurity. At the first hint of unease, aren't we prone to look outside of ourselves to find the root cause? It's ironic that the autonomy that drives modern mankind seems to collapse in the wake of a real sense of pain, insecurity, and discomfort. Modern man* thinks of himself as self-directed, until of course it's convenient to shift blame upon others. Some of us like to think no one governs the life of man...until we know in our head, gut, and heart that the way things are, isn't quite right. It's so much easier to blame someone or something else, than to examine ourselves and to acknowledge that the core problem lies within us. It's the unwillingness to be inconvenienced. It's the inability to live life alongside others and get dirty. Peace is no longer an ideal to hope for, to seek, or to live out in practice. Peace has become an idol.  Peace is viewed as an entitlement, characteristic of a lifestyle for the comfort of individuals, rather than as an obligation, characteristic of a lifestyle that promotes the well-being of others.
I canbe a jackass just like Johnny Miller! I tend to want to control a situation that makes me uncomfortable. I can either dismiss it (not deal with reality), or manipulate it to fit my idea of peace and comfort at the moment (a skewed view of reality). It's much more difficult and takes much more effort to own up to my insecurity or to confess that I'm put out because I'm inconvenienced and may be acting like a selfish B-otch! There are rare moments when my (ososweetbutnotsoperfect) husband gets on my nerves. (I know, close your jaw, you cannot even imagine the possibility:) It's probably because he's doing something that annoys me....just because it annoys me at that very moment. It's not a character issue, it's a personality issue! I can get crabby because he's taking time to relax and read when all I'd like to do is relax and read but I really didn't want to relax and read until I saw him relaxing and reading! Uhhh, my problem! I can be cranky and tell my kids, "Stop making that noise!" The noise may be the sound of them humming an annoying Disney song! Or seriously, I can get so bothered when one of my kids breathes funny because there's a booger (or a truck) blocking the passageway of one nostril! Uh, wherein does this problem lie? It's my own problem that I let myself get annoyed!

Man's entitlement to live in peace rules the day! But is it wrong to desire that peace? Is it wrong to want satisfaction? Why do we crave comfort? Do you think there's something in our makeup that knows that peace is a truth worth pursuing because it makes us more whole, more like we're created to be? The Hebrew word we use for peace is "shalom" and it's rich with meaning. I'll expound more in a later post on the questions above, but for now, I want us all to consider the true meaning of shalom. "The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be." Cornelius Plantinga. "Peace" is natural to the human body and soul, but it's been misdirected when it's pursued as a means to an end. It's a lack of humility, a lack of civility even. Sharing the burdens of others, whether waggles or addictions, is actually being more human. We're no longer in the Garden. A distorted view of peace entered the world when mankind acted in a way contrary to the well-being of God's creation. Enter man's discomfort with God, self, and others. We're made to be naked and unafraid! How awesome would that be? Mankind altered his own state from "very good" to "very uncomfortable", and you know what happened? God clothed them to protect them!  It saddens me when I think of all the ways I seek peace and satisfaction, and that I primarily seek it only for my whims and wishes. I worship a God who suffered the greatest discomfort of all, so He could clothe us in His righteousness. My Creator, the One source of true peace, suffered wounds in the flesh and experienced the discomfort of separation from His father for the healing, protection, nurturing, flourishing, and preservation of His whole creation. Now that's shalom, y'all!

Let's all try to start with ourselves the next time we have a "problem" with others. Like, in a wee bit. Let's do a gut-check and recognize that maybe "peace" has become our idol, and the problem is our problem of self-absorption and our unwillingness to be uncomfortable or inconvenienced, so that someone else can flourish. Matt Kuchar, who was paired with Na for the final round, did just that. You know how he reacted to the waggles? He didn't. He responded in peace. He gave Na the gift of patience that allowed Na to flourish in his own golf game. Consequently, Kuchar flourished too, winning the largest purse on the PGA tour! I'm thinking our discomfort is a product of our own doing, but it's also a part of sharing life with others living in our humanness! It's reflecting our Redeemer by practicing peace and patience with the whole human race. I'm thinking that if we're living life well, we've got to be willing to get our hands dirty. We ought not judge so quickly. We need to deal with the waggles of another, because we have our own waggles with which to deal! We ought to be willing to watch the grass grow, so that our fellow man can make his own magic happen! If we're not, we should probably ask ourselves, "Why aren't we?"

*Man: I use in the gender-neutral, universal sense for humanity. Although I'm a wee bit of the "I am woman, hear me roar" type, I don't get hung up on semantics when I understand a word's usage.