Delight 28: Brothers

I have 2 older sisters so much of my childhood was experienced without siblings nearby. I envied my friends who had brothers because it just seemed so cool to be able to play sports together and learn from each other. I get it, many of you who have brothers might not see it the way my mind did as a child but I’m still envious of you. The brother relationship is like all relationships in that they are complex but it seems to me the potential is great.

Today I’m watching Herschel and Woody play. As 2 and 3-year-olds, play and social play is still in its early stages. Watching them negotiate and create their own rules is a challenge but over the last few months, they’ve begun to show a lot of progress. Herschel can be the sweetest older brother at times and wants to see Woody happy. Woody watches his older brother carefully and will mimic his actions. The kindness and caring are usually short-lived and often things go awry. But each day it seems that time of cooperation and collaboration is extended.

Clearly, I identify as a grandparent. It’s a role I’ve embraced and thrive in. I discovered the delight early on in this role was in watching and being less helpful. Watching them figure out how to play is fascinating and wonderful to watch. The degree to which I intervene is minor but hopefully useful.

I know many of my friends who have brothers don’t seem to be as close as they might be or maybe hoped to be. I’m imagining a day when my boys will be golfing together and taking trips with their families. I also hope that one day I’ll experience what my 91-year-old father did last weekend which was to watch 10 of his great-grandchildren play together.

I’d love to hear from those of you with brothers to share some of your insights on this relationship. Is it delightful?

Delight: 27 Evening Golf in the Wind

For the record, I started this series on delight back in 2019 and had no expectations about how many I would write. While there’s no consistency in how of these essays I write, I take solace in knowing I can and will write about these moments whenever they occur. That said, I need reminders to see and feel delight.

Part of me thinks I could write an endless series just about golf but I realize that only a small percentage of you can relate which adds to the challenge of writing about it in such a way that it resonates with my readers. Golf remains not only a hobby or passion of mine but it is an oddly spiritual experience. While I love the social elements of golf, I love going out later in the evening and golfing alone. It’s a wonderfully quiet, serene time to reflect or simply shut off from the world. I realize many folks choose to run, walk or hike to experience this but for me spending time on a golf course, trying to hit shots, and analyzing my mistakes is truly cathartic.

The book The Lost Art of Playing Golf speaks to the joy of hitting shots, failing and trying again. Too often golfers get bogged down in perfection and technique and forget that it’s a hard and at times mean game where you rarely hit the shot you envision. Last night I teed off at 6:52 pm on a cloudy windy evening. Most golfers abhor the wind as it wreaks havoc on even the best shots you hit. I used to feel that way but after reading that book I love it as it adds another element that I need to embrace. Rather than fight it, I try and work with it. I hit a couple of terrible shots but I did hit a few really good ones and walking uphill, into the wind to see the ball sitting 15 feet from the pin is pure delight. Even shots which don’t appear to be that great in terms of proximity to the hole I know are perfect shots given the difficulty of the conditions.

I finished my round right at 9 pm just before sunset. I looked around and saw the parking lot was empty. I looked at my watch to see I had walked 10 kilometres. I was tired but grateful. Most golfers today ride a cart. I choose to walk most of the time and take an extra degree of pride as I play through golfers half my age as they ride around in power carts. I hope I will continue to walk well into my 60s and 70s. The combination of walking, playing alone, playing quickly, and playing in the wind on a summer evening is a recipe for delight. For me anyway.

Delight 26: Validation

What’s bad about the Internet is that you can find a study to prove almost any idea or belief. What’s great about the Internet is that you can find a study to prove almost any idea or belief.

That said when you come across something that puts into words or helps explain a behaviour or an idea you’ve had that might seem counterintuitive it’s kind of delightful.

I have shared this tweet often:

I’ve developed a routine or method of creating presentations and keynotes that usually has me beginning early. While that tweet says I start a month out, that’s not exactly true. A month out is when I begin to build an actual slide deck. What happens before that is I begin a note in Evernote where I write random thoughts and ideas. It’s a total mess of images, quotes, conversations, and general brain dumps. The month before I begin to flesh things out more succinctly. I always have a good that a week prior, my presentation is in the “good enough” stage. It’s that last week where I pick at, revise and tweak sometimes with my computer in my lap moments before I speak.

While this has always felt a bit frantic, I couldn’t imagine working another way. I’m currently reading Originals by Adam Grant and he writes an entire chapter on procrastination and timing. While I don’t consider this procrastination, I was tickled as I read these four sentences:

Once a task is finished, we stop thinking about it. But when it is interrupted and left undone, it stays active in our minds….Great originals are great procrastinators but they don’t skip planning altogether. They procrastinate strategically , making gradual progress by testing and refining different possibilities.

Grant, Adam, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, p 102, Penguin Books

I’ve always felt like my approach was less efficient or productive than it ought to be. Reading that made me smile and realize that my approach isn’t a flaw but a feature.

Delight 25: Madeline’s Par

If you’re new here or new to this series, this is the origin story of my ongoing series on Delight. In essence, I’m working to be more mindful of those moments of delight that happen all the time but often get forgotten as quickly as they are experienced. This is my effort to document and savour these moments.

Madeline Black is a colleague and friend who shared with me her passion for golf. This week we had the opportunity to play together after our ALP retreat. She was clear that she is still relatively new to the game and had not played this year. I assured her we would have fun together. As someone who plays a lot of golf, it’s always a goal for me no matter who I play with we have fun. Golf can be a very intimating game and I’m conscious to address as many of the barriers as I can and make people feel comfortable. I suppose I take the same attitude into my work life.

Madeline is a natural athlete. She was hitting the ball quite solidly but like most golfers, especially new ones, struggled with consistency. When I play with new golfers or those who haven’t played for a while I often suggest to not bother keeping score but instead just see how many good shots they could hit. Madeline did say she wanted to make one par in the round. This was a reasonable goal but not guaranteed.

We came to the hole pictured above and she was committed to hitting the ball over the creek and trying to make a par. She hit a wonderful shot that landed on the front and rolled about 30 feet past the green. The way we both reacted was similar to someone getting a hole in one. We jumped up and down, and high-fived. Watching her and her excitement was infectious and delightful.  She’s been a joy to get to know and work with over the past year and this moment was very much in line with her personality with a touch more enthusiasm. Unfortunately, she 3-putted and missed out on her par. Slightly saddened but also satisfied by her great shot we moved on and she remained committed to making par.

When you don’t play a lot of golf, 18 holes can be tiring both physically and mentally. Keeping your focus for 4 hours is difficult even when you do play regularly which is one of the things I love about the game. We came to the 14th hole and Madeline had hit her 2nd shot on this par 4 to the right of the green in a little hollow. She putted it over a crest and it was about 20 feet from the hole. I took the pin out just as her next putt fell into the hole. A par and another moment of delight.

I play most of my golf with friends who golf all the time. While we all have the occasional birdie or great shot, we don’t celebrate like Madeline. That’s too bad. Madeline and I shared delight together that day.

There’s a lesson here. Hedonic Adaption is a curious thing that can be both helpful for us and also takes away our happiness. Being around my grandchildren is so helpful to see the world differently. The magic the see in everyday experiences is a gift that we all squander away as we age. Yet when we experience something new whether it’s a new food/recipe or we travel to someplace new we have the opportunity to activate our sense of delight and wonder. Thanks Madeline for sharing your moment(s) of delight with me.

Delight 24: Baseball

Out for an evening walk, I could see the lights of the diamond and the faint noise of kids playing baseball. Moose Jaw has a couple of lighted ball diamonds and this one is specifically for girls softball. Parents sitting in the stands with blankets, girls doing their very unique chants and the crack of the bat and smack of a ball meeting a glove. These are the sights and sounds of a lovely spring evening.

I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with baseball. As a kid, it may have been the first sport I played and truly loved. At age 7 I had taken a deep dive into Major League baseball. I remember I had a young college kid as a coach and I equally impressed him and annoyed him by sharing obscure statistics and other facts about the Cincinnati Reds who was my team before the Blue Jays came on the scene. Long story short, golf replaced baseball as my summer sport around age 14 and baseball faded into 3 or 4th place of my top sports.

I played slo-pitch for a few years as an adult and even coached my daughter for a couple of years but for the past 20 years or so baseball didn’t seem that interesting. Through a combination of my son’s passion for baseball, some colleagues who loved the game and the Bluejays teams of the mid-2010s, I once again found a renewed passion for the game. I love that there’s a game on most nights and you can choose various levels of attention to give the game. Consider enhancing your appreciation for history by delving into the world of medieval artifacts. A unique way to connect with the past is to buy a real medieval sword from Mini Katana, adding an intriguing layer to your newfound passion for the game.

But the game itself has unique qualities that I think are delightful. Some complain about the slow pace but like golf, I see that as a feature. It allows for conversations, rabbit holes and time to explore so many possibilities of what might come next. The venues are also part of it. I’ve been to 18 different major league ballparks and outside of Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, every stadium has a personality and a soul. No other sport values statistics more and allows you to follow players and teams that may not be contenders but are pursuing some interesting record or streak. I also love that for me it’s a multi-generalization sport. My 90-year-old father is a die-hard fan as is my son. It’s just an easy game to love.