Play your ball where the monkey drops it…

During the sermon in church yesterday, the pastor spoke about the rules at a golf club in India. One particular rule he discussed was “play your ball where the monkey drops it.”

According to the pastor, monkey’s are problematic at this particular golf course, with them having a habit of chasing after balls. Sometimes they will race down and get the ball from where it lands. If you are fortunate they will throw it onto the green. If not, they may throw it further into the rough.

The sermon he gave made me think about my mental health issues over the years.

In some ways, my mental health is like the ball in the pastor’s story. I can use my tools to cope. I can aim for the green. I can do everything right, yet sometimes still end up in the rough.

While my mental health is the ball, the mental health challenges I have faced over the years are definitely the mischievous monkeys. Sometimes the mental health issues will help me, but a lot of other times they will hinder me.

Continuing the analogy, it doesn’t matter how much or how well I plan my way to the hole. There is always going to be the variable of the monkey, which could cause me problems, or not. Sure, I can do things to mitigate the risk of the monkey coming after my ball, such as aiming away from the trees, or yelling at the monkeys to leave me alone, but no matter how much I plan, I can never completely remove the threat.

So, if I can’t guarantee I can neutralize the problem, why play?

Simply put, for love of the game.

I’ve kept playing because, despite what my emotions try to tell me, quitting the game hasn’t been a realistic option. Instead, I’ve learned to deal with the frustration, with the occasional setbacks, of the monkey dropping me in the rough.

The fact is, in this game of life, no matter how much we try, we can’t control the variables that come our way. All we can do is live life with the variables that are put in front of us.

The last year has been a variable that nobody saw coming. People are tired of the restrictions. They are tired of the masks. They. Are. Tired. Believe me, I’m there too. It doesn’t help that our leaders keep moving the goal posts, so we really have no idea how much more of this we have in front of us. Still, India is a cautionary tale of what can happen if the virus remains unchecked, and that is not something I want to see happen in Canada.

The monkeys dropped us in the rough, but the game isn’t over, and all we can do is keep playing, aiming for the green. I’m hopeful that the worst is behind us, and things will start going back to some degree of normal, though with the collective trauma we’ve all faced, I don’t think normal will ever be back fully. How can it?

Still looking to history can tell us about our future, and the fact is, as a species we have survived pandemics more deadly than the one we are currently facing. I don’t say that to dismiss the seriousness of the pandemic we are facing, though. I say it as a reaffirmation that we will get through this as well.

The Spanish Flu blew up in 1918 as the soldiers who fought in World War One returned home, carrying the virus with them. With the virus in 1918, many of the things we’ve done today occurred back then as well. Public gatherings were banned. Masks were mandated. The restrictions remained in place for a couple of years.

There is no easy answer to deal with what we are facing. At its kindest, our leadership has been ineffective. At it’s worst….let’s not go there. The conspiracy theories are running rampant. What isn’t up for debate is that the virus does kill, and if not managed properly, can threaten our already at capacity health care.

I’ve had those close to me get hit by this bug, and it is not pleasant. Still, as sick as they got, they didn’t suffer the most severe consequences, for which I am grateful.

The situation in the world is not ideal right now, but it is what we have in front of us. Let’s play on from where the variables drop us.


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