Organizing Our Thoughts Blog

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September 2016 / by Amy /

The Parable of the Golf Shoes

I love golf.

I fell in love with the sport while attending college in the mid-90’s. I found it to be the perfect sport; fun and challenging without being uber-competitive. It was the kind of game you could play and compete with friends, but at the end of the day it was really about self-improvement. And for me, it was a great way to relax after a stressful day...warm sun and a lovely walk of the fairway...I was in college after all, WHO could afford golf carts?!? The best part was because I attended a female liberal arts college, I never had trouble finding like-minded soul sisters to golf with, and, of course, there was also the student discount for green fees.

As my passion for the sport grew, so did the need and want of new equipment. Very quickly I went from a used starter-set and tennis shoes to my own clubs, bag, glove, monogram golf balls, and, the piece de résistance, a pair of leather Lady Fairway golf shoes! Mine were the exact same style as the picture, except mine where in white and navy blue (to match my golf bag…of course)!

Lady Fairway Golf Shoes

Some girls covet Jimmy Choos or Manola Blahnik, but for me it was leather golf shoes, which back in the day went for around $180.00 a pair. I remember thinking at the time I purchased them, “Wow, these cost the same as half a course credit or 2 text books!” In hindsight, scraping together the money to purchase these while living on grants and student aid probably wasn’t the most prudent choice, but I loved my shoes, and I loved how great I felt when I wore them during play.

Alas, my college years came to an end. Life became extremely busy embracing the grown-up world of career paths, deadlines, maintaining a home, and, of course, relationships. In addition, most of my girlfriends soon were married starting their own families, and golf suddenly was a luxury no one had time for. So, I carefully packed my beautiful shoes away in their box and stowed them in the back of my closet waiting for the time when I would use them again.

Years passed and the shoes traveled with me –unused– to Miami, Atlanta, D.C. and, finally, Baltimore. It was always slightly unsettling to see my golf equipment lying dormant, especially the shoes. I also frequently found myself nagged by my own sub-conscious that brought to life a ridiculous internal argument that followed something along the lines of…

“Hey, Amy? You know, you’ve been carting these around for a while, do you actually intend to golf again?”

“Of course! I just need to (__insert excuse du jour here__). But, I’ll most definitely use them!”

“Uh yeah, and when do you suppose that will be?”

“I don’t know, someday. Besides, these were really expensive shoes. I can’t just get rid of them. When I do start golfing again, I would have to go out and buy new ones, and these are in perfect condition.”

“Yes, but they’re sitting in a box, and have been for years now! You don’t suppose someone else could benefit from using these shoes now? Don’t you think that if you could find a way to purchase these when you were an impoverished student living on Ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches, you will be in better shape financially to replace these down the road…you know, when you actually decide to play again?”

“Yes, I suppose, but I’m just not ready to give them away. I have great memories of wearing these shoes. I felt great in these shoes and nothing else will be the same. Enough already, Self! I’m keeping them!”

Sound familiar?

Needless to say my sub-conscious never won this argument, and I held onto the shoes until one heartbreaking day 14 years later when my husband and I were unpacking a box labeled sporting equipment in the basement of our new home. With glee I exclaimed to my newly-wed husband, “Oh look, honey, my golf shoes! Since you love to golf too, I can finally wear them again!”

Much to my dismay, I opened the Lady Fairway shoe box and found that sometime over the numerous years that had passed, my beautiful expensive leather golf shoes had disintegrated. The leather was cracked and falling off in layered flakes in my hands. My poor shoes had ceased to be, and I was crushed.

In one second, every reason I had made for keeping them over the years was moot. I didn’t save myself any expense as I would definitely have to replace them now. Moreover, I had held on so tight to something because of my memories, the shoes never got their full use from someone, ANYONE, who could have enjoyed them and built great memories too. Not to mention the years I carted the shoes around with me, struggling to find safe storage spaces for them, which in some of my tremendously small apartments was not at all easy. It was a life lesson I have never forgotten.

The great thing about “life lessons” is we learn the most from our failures, pitfalls, and bad decisions. What I learned through the loss of my golf shoes is that all things in life are subject to deterioration. You can take excellent care of anything, but eventually all physical things age, weaken, fade, break and disintegrate, just as human beings. It is for this single reason of temperance, we need to remember the importance of enjoying and making the most our time on this earth, our relationships with others, the activities we participate in, and the possessions we use to enhance our lives.

Nearly all my clients have heard this parable at some point during our work sessions, because most people I have met struggle with the same issues of time management and prioritization of what is most important to us at any given time in our lives. We want to do it all, but the reality is that life doesn’t really allow for this. So, we have to choose what is most important to us in a given moment. Here is the challenge, every human being has responsibilities that impact his or her life and have people or demands that can pull us in multiple directions. Additionally, most people have myriad interests and passions. Sometimes we can incorporate our interests and passions in our current lifestyle, and sometimes we can’t. Therefore, we have to choose what we will do with the time we have available to us. This is choice, and choosing to pick up and put down something for another priority is not a bad thing -unless we are dealing with issues relating to work/life balance, which is a subject for another blog altogether- but most life experience factors in change.

The problem comes when we fail to adapt to the changes in our environment or lifestyle. Rather than allowing ourselves permission to make a proactive choice in a positive and productive manor, we pass judgment on ourselves or negatively see this choice as a personal failure in “not being able to DO IT ALL!” We also fail to realize that just because we let something go at one time, does not mean we can’t or won’t be able to pick it up again. So, what do we do? We cling to physical possessions with the thought that these items will stay with us always, for the day when we can make room in our lives to accommodate it. And depending upon the quantity of our interests, these things multiply and take up both physical and mental space that still requires us to accommodate, even if we are not actively engaged with it.

Using my example, I clung to the unused golf shoes for years. Do you think for one second during this period of my life that I didn’t try or find other things that interested me? Of course not, there were other passions and interests that came along each with their own paraphernalia. Yet, I would always have twinges of guilt every time I saw the shoes. Rather than accept the choice to let go of golf -either temporarily or permanently- for one of the other interests or priorities in my life, I set unrealistic expectations for myself and defended my decision with excuses. And at the end of the day where did I find myself? Exactly where I would have been, had I made the decision to let them go in the first place.

So what is the reality of my life now? I am a wife and entrepreneur in start-up mode. I have numerous commitments to my clients and business. Demand for my time is constant and the relationships that mean the most to me require my commitment to them as well. Do I have time to golf today? LOL! Absolutely not! But, that’s okay. This is where I am at in my life now. Maybe I will pick up a club again...maybe not. Regardless, because I have let something go and opened my life to other interests and activities, I have discovered there are new experiences and opportunities I’ve had and will continue to have that I actually enjoy more.

The parable of the golf shoes taught me one of the most important steps to making a life less messy. Take a look at all the things in your life you are holding onto, whether physical or emotional. Is the thing you are clinging to expanding your life or encumbering it? Take an inventory of all the things you are holding onto in hopes of enjoying “someday” in the future. If you haven’t touched it in 3-5 years, odds are you’re never going to, and, deep down inside each of us, we already know this to be true. Give yourself permission to make a choice that works for your life today; that makes your life easier today; and that brings you joy…today.