I haven’t hit the greens since I was in high school, but I’m no slouch at miniature golf. I play with my 11-year-old son, who has gotten much better at the sport over the years—and much more graceful about losing. Nonetheless, in the years since I’ve been watching him play, I’ve noticed the parallel between wishing reality were different and wishing one’s ball had landed somewhere else. Both are useless endeavors. Cliches exist because they have wisdom in them; “Play the ball where it lies” is one of the smartest pieces of advice I know.
Smart, and yet also oft-ignored. How many of us waste time and energy wishing we hadn’t landed in the sand traps or water hazards of our lives? Bemoaning how unfair it is that someone else landed right on the green while we’re off and lost in the woods, our ball buried or richocheting randomly off trees?
I could pretend I am not disabled. I could wish my marriage hadn’t come apart. I could get stuck in the “unfairness” of being a single mom, or having one kid instead of a tribe, or having short fingers, or whatever it is that didn’t come out like I thought it would.