Singing and Swinging: What to do when you lose your way

Have you ever felt ‘off’? Things you used to do with ease seem to take a lot of focus and effort. Or you are going through the exact same motions as before, but you don’t feel fulfilled like you used to. As much as you try to get out of a funk, nothing seems to get you back to where you know you belong. No matter how many times you try to recreate Unique Life Feels (ULFs), it seems you are not able to feel what you once did.

This feeling reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, “The Legend of Bagger Vance”. The one time all-star golfer, and hero of Savannah, Rannulph Junah (Matt Damon) struggles to find his swing. As his soon to be caddie Bagger Vance (Will Smith) points out, perhaps Junah’s real struggle is with more than the mechanics of his golf swing. Here is the scene from the movie. Here is a partial transcript if you want to skip the clip (though I recommend the clip).

Bagger: See, the trick is to find your swing.
Junuh: What did you say?
Bagger: You lost your swing. We got to go find it.
Bagger: Now it's somewhere in the harmony of all that is...
Bagger: ...all that was...
Bagger: ...all that will be.
Sometimes in life we “lose our swing” and need help to get it back.

Recently, my brother invited me to play some indoor golf and it became apparent I too had “lost my swing”. It was probably unreasonable to think I could just pick up where I left off, but mentally I expected to hit my normal shots. Even though I was out of practice and had not even attempted to golf for the past few months, something inside me expected the best version of golfer to shine through.

There is value in practice, routine, and working to improve. Even in small ways, how we spend our time makes a big impact on how we interact with the world around us. If there is something meaningful you want to maintain or improve in your life, there is a need to make a conscious effort to make it a part of your routine.

Trying to “find my swing”. The tree is a good indicator or how things started off! After getting back in the groove and settled things started coming together.

This post is about more than just golf though. The title for this post ‘Singing and Swinging’ hit me one Sunday while my wife and I attended church. At our church, we begin the service singing worship songs. On this particular Sunday I felt as though my voice as carrying the tune with some power, the notes flowed steadily as we sang along. Whether the melody or the harmony, my voice was locked into the songs. It felt great to sing and feel so connected to the music!

During the last song, I had a much more meaningful realization. My voice was much more of an outward expression of my spirit than I had realized.

The fact my voice felt connected and ‘on’ was great! The realization my voice, and spirit, had been ‘off’ for months was not.

I had been letting my faith wane. Not that I was actively abandoning my faith, but I was certainly no longer in a practice of growing my faith. In some way I had become Rannulph Junuh. I was expecting to stay filled with faith, even though I had not been making faith a priority. I believe the religious term for this situation is that I had become a sloth, not putting in effort to maintain or grow my faith.

As I stood in church and thought about how pure and connected my voice felt, I could not help but think of another clip from “The Legend of Bagger Vance”. In this scene, Bagger is explaining “the field” to Rannulph Junah. Here is partial transcript if you want to skip the video clip (although I recommend the clip).

There's a perfect shot out there trying to find each and every one of us.
All we got to do is get ourselves out of its way, to let it choose us.
...
Where everything that is becomes one.                
You've got to seek that place, with your soul, Junuh.                
Seek it with your hands, don't think about it, feel it.                
Your hands are wiser than your head's ever gonna be.                
Now I can't take you there just hopes I can help you find a way.                
It's just you that ball, that flag, and all you are.   
“The field” is the groove we all search for, the place where life makes sense. Often we might need someone (or something) to help us redirect in order to “see the field”.

During those few months of feeling a disconnect I did several things to try to fill in a hole I did not consciously realize had even been growing. As Bagger Vance explains to Junuh, getting back into my faith did not include a checklist of things to do, but rather involved letting myself go enough to feel connected with my faith once again.

For me, it is no surprise “The Legend of Bagger Vance” is based on a sacred Hindu story about a deity intervening in a warrior’s life to help them realize their full potential. I believe the Holy Spirit dwells in each of us and has the ability to help us all reach our full potential.

Perhaps sometimes the spirit is communicating with us, and we are just focusing on everything except this one thing inside which can lead us back to a fulfilling life. Perhaps that Holy Spirit is always working to help guide our way, and we also just need to “get ourselves out of its way” and let it choose how we can use our gifts to live a fulfilling life. Peace.

Are You Listening?

A soft, steady click. Not more than the light click of a spacebar.

This little click is all it took to cause a week-long headache of a recurring battery failure on our Ford Explorer. A headache that peaked when the dead battery caused our son to be late for his first day of pre-school.

The issue in diagnosing the problem was the battery was fine to drive from Grand Rapids to North of Detroit, then the next morning it was dead. After recharging it was fine for a day. Then dead again. After recharging again we drove back to Grand Rapids with no trouble. Finally, another full day later the battery was dead on pre-school day #1. Continue reading

Unique Life Feels- ULFs

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” -Helen Keller

I am thankful for feelings. The ability to feel happiness, sadness, frustration, relief, contentment, discomfort; all of these feelings remind me I am Alive. I believe in life there is a balance to emotions. For each high there is a low, for every ebb there is a flow. It has not always felt this way.

In high school I worked at Chuck E. Cheese and really enjoyed that job. One day at work I was in a particularly cheerful mood and I remember a team-member asking me “What are you on?” and I honestly replied, Continue reading

Removing the word “Can’t”

Having two young boys has presented many challenges these past three years of fatherhood, but many lessons have been learned along the way. At this point into the parenthood game the life lessons learned from now being a dad have outnumbered the lessons I have been able to teach my sons. One of the most valuable of these lessons has been the power of the word can’t. Not long after learning to speak in short sentences my oldest son would become frustrated doing a task and throw down this demotivating c-word. This behavior then seemed to always  preview another negative action labeled with a four letter word, quit. Continue reading

Finding God in the Waves

I have known for awhile that reading is not a priority for me. I also know there are many correlations between successful people and reading. One of the final nudges for me to start reading, and sharing my reading with students, is I believe strongly in the “lead by doing” idea of being any sort of role model or leader. In the winter of the 2016-2017 school year I took the lead from a few other teachers in our district and started a classroom library.

Creating this library actually came together quite nicely! Two matching bookshelves were sitting unused in our district’s furniture “storehouse”. I have many personal books I took out of moving boxes to start the collection. I used resources like Donors Choose to order a few dozen science themed books. I was also fortunate to have colleagues share books, or direct book donations my way. Put all these together and voila! The science library begins. Getting students to use it has been a story for another post.

To start populating the science library, I looked at several ‘Top-100 Science Book” pages. Continue reading