Adventure Time: Too Good to be True

This trip began with two readings. The first, an excerpt from the late Anthony Bourdain. The second, a meditation from Sadhguru. Two seemingly completely different human beings saying the exact same thing. Live life. Explore. Set fear to the side.

Having said that, my first order of business was to outrun the treacherous Winter Storm Uri. So I put the readings down and left an hour early.

Back in November, I received an email from Team Titleist that caught my attention. Amidst my 2,154 unread emails, this one stood out. For $699 plus tax and fees, I would get WHAT? I read the email about ten times, then saved it. I’d be back.

For $699, I could go to Pinehurst in January or February and do/get the following: a round on US Open course # 2, a round on its newly redesigned and rebranded sister course # 4, a round on The Cradle (the most fun little course in the world), two nights in the historic Carolina Hotel, the legendary breakfast buffet each morning (shout out chicken and apple sausage), dinner every evening, a Titleist club fitting session, and a $200 Titleist gift card. I quickly started doing some math.

I like value. I always have. It can be stocks, it can be real estate, it can be clearance sales, it can be golf packages. Per my quick math, this package was worth about $1750. For $699. It was happening. 100%.

With Covid-19, new house building, and all sorts of other riff raff going down, I purposely waited until the 11th hour to book the trip. As such, the weekends were sold out, but the weekdays were wide open. It would be tricky to get some friends to basically take a week off from whatever, but I threw out a few East Coast invites. I got plenty of No’s, plenty of Maybe’s, and two Yes’s. That was good enough for me.

My childhood friend, Kevin aka Caveman, is always up for it. My newish friend, Ben aka Birmingham Ben aka The Lord Benjamin, is too. Ask this, move this, bob here, weave there. And it was done. February 16-18. Pinehurst, NC. Old friends meet new friends.

I still thought the package was too good to be true. Where was the upcharge? Where were the extras?

We played the crazy 18 hole putting green, Thistle Du, first on Tuesday. We then walked # 4 in crazy windy conditions. The highlight was Caveman’s much improved ballstriking, which was super fun to watch. We then looped The Cradle twice, drinks in hand, singing alongside the music blaring. Pinehurst Brewing Co. provided our dinner, the whole experience an A+. Soon thereafter, three thirty something year olds crashed. Hard.

We started Wednesday off with the Titleist fitting. It was early. It was cold. It was so fun. Ben and Caves hit drivers. I worked on my wedges. Caveman’s company provides the metal for the new Titleist driver, so he and the fitters geeked out over that. Next, we tackled # 2, one of my favorite places in the world. There is no respite on this beast, each punch in the mouth immediately followed by another punch in the gut. It’s like torture, but somehow super fun.

A little gift card shopping followed, then some transfusions and appetizers, and then it was time for dinner. I wore a jacket for the first time (minus a funeral) in the better part of two years. I brought dress shoes too, but they never made it to my aching feet.

Somehow, the Maine lobster was not an upcharge, so I indulged. Nor was the lemon and raspberry sorbet, which the boys are still making fun of me about. Afterwards, we sat on the porch in the brisk air and chatted about real life, always the best part of any trip. We giggled about Fran Tarkenton. Or was it Frank Tarlton. Or was it Frank Tarkleton. #insidejoke

Somehow, in a North Carolina winter rife with constant rain and gloom, we got two beautiful Carolina blue sky days. It was windy Tuesday. It was a little chilly Wednesday. But it was otherwise perfect. Somehow, there was no upcharge for that.

On the front end of the trip, I got to see my sister and nieces. On both ends, I got to see my parents.

As we departed on Thursday morning, it was 32 degrees, sleeting, and time to outmaneuver Winter Storm Viola. So we said our goodbyes, and I asked The Lord and The Caveman if we should go ahead and book our Team Titleist adventure for next year.

Jokingly, but dead serious.

Have a great week.-Benj

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The Greatest Day of Each Year

No, I am not talking about Valentine’s Day, which just happens to be today. No, I am not talking about the usual suspects, Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving. No, I am not talking about my birthday. No, I am not even talking about Opening Day of MLB or Masters Sunday. Nor am I talking about the kickoff of soccer and football season in the fall (though they are close).

I am talking about February 10, my son’s birthday, the day that over the last two or three years has come to be my absolute favorite of the year.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this feeling inside that every day should be lived to the max. Only in the last almost four years have I actually acted 100% on that, making sure that Saturday was no more important than Monday, Sunday no more important than Wednesday. I remember having the feeling inside that if I wanted to give thanks, I need not wait until Thanksgiving. That if I wanted to show love, a random Thursday would do. And MY birthday? My parents should be the ones celebrated, not me.

As such, I didn’t have a day, a day that I just adored, outside of a handful on the sports calendar that indeed got me buzzing.

Every year just prior to February 10, Christy commandeers my phone and snags hundreds of pictures of our son to make a beautiful year in review birthday video. This video is really the crux of why February 10 is my favorite day of the year. On his birthday, we make a big freaking deal of the entire day, then that night, to the backdrop of some meaningful song that year, we watch the video. And I cry and cry and cry, thinking about each picture and what we were doing and/or talking about when it was taken.

You see, one of the skills I’ve most enjoyed developing over the past four years has been the ability to take photos and videos and still truly be present. To not live the moment through a video, but to live the moment real time AND have a video to remind me of the moment later on. It took some time to get it right, but on February 10 each year, the effort is so worth it.

As we watched earlier this week, through my tears, I would shout exactly what we were talking about as each picture was taken (annoying, I’m sure). Or what day it was. Or any number of other meaningful stuff. It was like reliving all of these wonderful moments over again, if only for five seconds.

Sometimes the big man asks us to put the phone away, and sometimes he desperately wants us to take some silly video when we really don’t want to. It’s a balancing act that will never be perfect.

But as long as I am honestly in the moment, fully conscious of what is happening, able to feel, I am going to snap away. Because on February 10 each year, we go back in the past to relive what was already felt in the present, and that gets me super excited for all of life’s possibilities for the next year.

And that is why it has easily become my favorite day of the year.

Have a great week.-Benj

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500 Days of abk Golf: The Great Humbling

“Fall in love with losing, because most people are scared of it.”-GaryVee

In the past 658 calendar days, I’ve worked to get better and better (and better) at golf for 500 of those days. I’ve felt every emotion (and soreness) a person could feel. The most poignant? Being humbled.

One of the primary reasons I have become enamored with getting good at golf is that it doesn’t play favorites. You can dress nicely, but it doesn’t matter. You can come from a wealthy family, but it doesn’t matter. You can be a CEO of a major company, but it doesn’t matter. If you can’t or don’t tend to the physical, mental, and emotional aspects required to play the game at a high level, the game will very quickly eat your lunch.

500 days. Yes, you read that correctly. 503 now. Probably 2500+ hours on the course. Hundreds more off the course. The amount of information I have taken in, processed, and tried to spit back out via playing good golf is astounding.

I’m a quick learner, but damn.

First, some thoughts about the physical. The body was not meant to swing a golf club violently at 100mph+ over and over. But then again, the body is an amazing machine. I’m actually astounded that my body has held up over these 503 days. But then again, I’ve tended to it daily with light weights, stretching bands, and the like. I’m super sore all of the time, but that’s just the tradeoff from the decision I made. I’m 38. I have arthritis. I’m on my feet 6-12 hours per day. (I’d rather be on fire than on my feet in my down time.) My calves, Achilles, feet, elbows, and wrists talk to me constantly. But I know how to talk back, so we carry on.

Second, some thoughts about the mental. The mind is an amazing machine. It can compute so much more than we think, as long as we treat it kindly. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve taken in ridiculous amounts of high level golf information that I’ve somehow filtered through. As you can imagine, at times, I’ve struggled with extreme mental fatigue. Sometimes, I press on. Sometimes, I take a break. I’ve learned how to manage it, so we carry on.

I’ve also struggled with Do I belong?, though that thought is becoming less and less prevalent. I share this with you because I think when a person dives into something new or on the non-traditional path, he/she can feel this way. Instead of running scared the other way, the remedy to this is hard work and genuine desire. This will eventually lead to getting good, which solves so much.

Last, some thoughts about the emotional. Playing this game well relies on having confidence. Confidence comes from a myriad of factors, but for me, it comes from playing well and seeing that little white ball go in the hole over and over. During the last couple of months and at other times along the journey, I’ve just felt off. Like, I knew what to do, but for some reason, I just couldn’t do it. That frustrated me. Then it snowballed. Then it got cold. And windy. And I made a bunch of changes. And then before long, a man that thrives on confidence had none. I didn’t know how to get it back other than to keep grinding, but recently it came back, so we carry on.

The best advice I’ve received along the golf journey is to play with players better than me. It’s humbling, but it’s an incredible learning experience. I might shoot a respectable 75 now and finish last in my foursome (this has happened a zillion times). I lost by 15 strokes (67-82) to a 15 year old kid a few months ago. For all intents and purposes, I’ve been beaten all year. What has this gotten me? Absolutely incredible improvement.

The final question that I sometimes ponder is Does any and/or all of this matter? On the one hand, the answer is of course not. It’s just golf. On the other hand, everything matters, and most definitely getting good at golf matters. I’ve dedicated my life to the game for the recent past and the foreseeable future.

The journey to get really good at something is a fascinating one, often focused on THE THING when in fact, it’s the pushing of normal human limits (the physical, the mental, the emotional) to a different level that really is THE THING.

What’s next? Pinehurst in a week’s time, where something magical is bound to happen.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Fishing Camp Life: The End of an Era

“Let’s agree on one thing. Wherever this wild ride leads, let’s ensure Banks has an absolutely incredible childhood.”-Christy, Benj

The fishing camp is a unique place, to say the least. I remember thinking that the first time I laid eyes on it years ago. In its simplest form, it is a smattering of small cabins laid out on a beautiful, waterfront piece of land in southern, coastal Mississippi. Everybody knows everybody, and has for a million years. A few folks live there permanently, but most come to fish, boat, and play on weekends from March to October. Unique, yes. But I love unique.

If there is such a thing as the perfect place to raise a 5 year old boy, this would be the place. Embraced immediately by the good folks here, Banks lived the dream for just over 18 months. He climbed trees, built forts, went fishing, played with the boys, went boating, and went jet skiing, among others. If you’ve read for any period of time, you know I think the most underrated life aspiration is freedom, and he had it in droves.

It was a bona fide outdoor life. 10 months out of the year, just stay where we can see you, and the world is yours.

I have a million favorite memories that occurred at the camp: first day of school where mommy and I wept buckets, first hurricane experience, etc.

But two stand out to me that were driven primarily by the fine folks at the camp. First, someone erected an old mailbox beside our camp to be used as Banks’ Mailbox. Every other day for months on end, there would be books, candy, letters, and the like inside. Banks checked first thing every afternoon. It ALWAYS made him smile.

Second, we lived there for two Halloweens. Since there was only one full-time child resident (him), a person could reasonably expect no big Halloween riff raff. Au contraire. Both years, he came home with enough candy to feed an army, courtesy of a handful of people intent on making sure he was taken care of. It brings a little tear to my eye just thinking about it.

It takes a village, and Banks has more honorary uncles, aunts, and grandparents than I can even begin to count.

Last, a personal note. I march to the beat of my own drum. I don’t know if the camp had ever housed a man who wore pink hats and had a general ineptitude for all things hands on.

Instead of letting that be a barrier, everyone was very welcoming and extremely helpful. I had countless wonderful conversations about the history, the region, and the people.

When I had a dead battery in my car, they were there to lend a hand. When I needed to learn how to launch a boat, de-head shrimp, or clean fish, there they were. And my personal favorite: when it was time for me to back a trailer and launch a jet ski for the first time, they took me to a private marina so I wouldn’t be nervous or embarrassed. I was blown away.

Never in a million years would I have ever thought of living at a fishing camp in southern Mississippi. But I’m so glad I did. The experiences and memories will truly live forever. What a unique place, and what a FINE, FINE group of people.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Life: Open for Business

“I wanted to explore a change. Unbeknownst to me, something else happened.”-abk

In the almost 4 years since the abk journey began, I could list for you a zillion external changes that I have made. They are rather obvious. As such, I have very little interest in making that list.

However, in that same time frame, an equal amount, if not more, internal changes have occurred, and that is the crux of where this journey always was and still is headed. On this topic, I would love to share.

If you read with any regularity, you may notice these words and phrases repeated often: life without categories, freedom as the goal, disdain for rigid routine, among others.

This is because I am interested more and more in really only one thing: life! Let me explain.

For our whole lives, we are told certain words that describe a certain external path to success: college, career, money, title, advancement, marriage, kids, religion, power, accolades, retirement, death, so on.

Interestingly, this set of instructions rarely, if ever, mentions free thinking, creativity, self, happiness, purpose, potential and the unlimited internal journey.

I knew there had to be another path, and one that I wanted, not the one that Jedediah from 1853 recommended. I’m glad I finally found the courage to pursue it.

Until I found it on my own…until I found it with the immense help of friends, family, and complete strangers…until life pointed it my way, I had never been aware of or receptive to a great internal inquiry, namely body, mind, emotion, and energy. That if I could inquire within, work on myself, fully understand myself, and pay attention to life (that word again), all of that other stuff would arrange itself into life as the universe deemed fit.

I can understand if you think that sounds a little naive, but I’ve seen it, felt it, learned it, done it. Better yet, I’m constantly in the process of doing it now.

We’ve all met someone who is full of life. Always pleasant. Always at ease. Everyone wants to be around them. It’s an intriguing possibility, for sure.

I remember when I began to see life not only in people, but also in animals, sunsets, and trees. Seeing a deer or an alligator, watching a full moon, and seeing autumn leaves made me feel a certain way. I thought to myself, I think we’ve got life a little backwards.

One night in 2020, I was out on the course, and the sunset was bananas. I remember thinking to myself, I may be on to something here.

Yet there were times, even here recently, where I would be out on the course in the middle of nature, and I still would get mad at myself for making a simple mistake. I knew I wasn’t there yet. I knew there was more work to be done. I knew there was great possibility ahead.

You would think the past two years specifically would have taken a toll on me physically, but I feel more alive than I ever have. The 494 days of golf have certainly made me sore. The not sleeping in my own bed has made me sore. The having no carpet to lay down on and stretch has made me sore. Thus has been the importance of the body, mind, emotion, and energy internal focus. Without it, this particular journey would be borderline impossible. With this, it has become limitless.

As such, I anticipate 2021 to be the biggest transformation year yet, though it may be invisible to the untrained eye. What’s the goal? Increased attention paid to life. That’s all.

I’m going to try lots of new things. Here recently, I’ve started doing more intense mental work, primarily for the golf journey. I’ve begun doing breathing work. Next week, Christy and I will have a new house, a big bed again, and I’ll have a little stretching area with carpet. I’ll be enjoying the energy from the sea breeze along with a different view of the sunrises and sunsets.

I’m not using Facebook any more, and I love it. I’ve got some new avenues I want to explore to express my creativity. I’m headed to Pinehurst again soon for an exciting excursion and a pretty steep personal test.

But most importantly, I am going to be 100% dedicated to within, who I am, and who I didn’t even know I could be, maybe for the first time in my almost 39 years of life.

There will be twists and turns, absolutely. There are a couple of off the beaten path explorations in Michigan and West Texas that I would love to pursue. But who knows? As the English novelist Margaret Drabble said, When nothing is sure, everything is possible.

And that is the real benefit of being open to life.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Freedom Series: Born to Roam

When I was in my early teenage years, I took a trip with my father to New York City. I’m not sure if this particular trip incited my lifelong travel itch, but it certainly did not hurt.

As a part of my dad being a college music professor, he had multiple opportunities for professional development each year. At some point, I started to tag along, and I never stopped. An epic road trip to Madison, Wisconsin, a New Year’s Eve in London, and multiple stops in Manhattan top the list. It was something I looked forward to a couple of times each year.

Just prior to this specific trip to New York, I remember seeing a Taco Bell advertisement for a taco and bean burrito for only $0.99. I remember this vividly because if, as a maybe 13 year old, I could subsist on tacos and bean burritos for the week, all of my other money I had saved could be used for whatever I pleased.

During the day, my dad had conferences, and I was free to roam the city. This certainly began my love affair with the city, as I explored every nook and cranny that my Taco Bell-fueled body could find. I preferred to walk, but sometimes I would take the subway or a taxi if my destination was too far away. The touristy places were cool, but I preferred the gritty, off the beaten path spots (still do, #abk). I loved the act of exploring. I loved the way it made me feel. I loved looking up at hundreds of windows in a skyscraper and wondering who was behind them and what they were doing. It was the introduction to a massive, limitless world for a small-town boy.

On one particular day, my dad and I were going to meet for dinner. He had conferences all day and then a meeting or concert that night, so there was only a short window for us to meet. As such, we agreed to meet at 5pm at a very specific location at Rockefeller Center, with one caveat. If either of us got tied up for whatever reason and couldn’t make that time and place, by 5:15, we were free to go our separate ways and simply meet back at the hotel later that evening. Looking back, we must have missed each other by three minutes, but nevertheless, we didn’t connect.

On the one hand, I was devastated. I was looking forward to dinner in the city with my dad. On the other hand, I had money burning a hole in my pocket from my Taco Bell savings, and I had the greatest city in the world at my fingertips.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Home Alone 2, and many of my favorite scenes happen at The Plaza Hotel (“You know, Herbert Hoover once stayed on this floor. The vacuum guy?”) Just a few blocks up Fifth Avenue from where I was currently standing that night, curiosity and opulence started calling my name. So I turned Uptown and started walking. When I arrived, it was still way too early for the dinner crowd, so I was able to snag a table for one in the corner. I drank free water, ordered a $50 steak with the accompanying four sauces (bernaise, etc.), and chowed down as the staff looked on perplexed. I would have loved to have had a dining companion, but it was a unique and memorable experience nonetheless. I grabbed a box of “The Plaza” matches (which I still have) on my way out, then moseyed back to our less fancy hotel to meet my dad.

Dad, you are not going to believe where I just ate…

To this day, it still fascinates me that a minute here and a minute there would have completely changed this story. Would we have gone to The Plaza together, or would we have done something completely different? Who knows? Thus is the wonderful, mysterious nature of life.

But I do know this. I owe my dad a meal in some shape or another. Hopefully we can do that soon. A fat, juicy steak would be my preference (and probably his), but if that doesn’t work out, I guess there’s always Taco Bell?

(All of my pictures of this trip are hard copies. They are in my scrapbook. My scrapbook currently resides somewhere in the deepest depths of Mississippi.)

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Lifestyle: ✌️ & 🌴

“…how can you not explore the full depth and dimension of who you are?”-Sadhguru

I haven’t slept in my own bed in almost two years now. That is hard to believe. But this almost two year time period, combined with the nearly two years prior, was my introduction into a new way to experience life, and it was vital to begin exploring my full depth.

I slept in beds in half of the United States. I slept in beds in multiple foreign countries. I slept on couches. I slept in tents and under the open sky. I slept in numerous beds in North Carolina. I slept in numerous beds in Mississippi. Just not my own.

Since abk’s inception nearly four years ago, my life has become something that not even the wildest imagination could imagine. This is by design, of course, and it happened purposefully by my following three basic mantras along the way:

1. Be completely open to life

2. Constantly work on understanding and bettering myself

3. Pay attention to everything

It’s the great juxtaposition of living. On the one hand, my whole life became completely uncertain. I didn’t know my ass from my elbow there for a little while. But I learned very quickly to accept and embrace this. I now thrive on it. (Routine can be a slow, slow drain…).

On the other hand, the one thing I must have complete control over in this life, myself, needed to be more fully explored.

Understanding myself as an adult, in depth, fully conscious, without outside influence, was necessary to embrace the wonderful uncertainties of life and the infinite possibilities the world had to offer.

It’s amazing how many outside influences infiltrate our lives and the decisions we make, sometimes without our even knowing it. Blatant crap and subtle nonsense. Along the journey, it’s been incredibly important for me to eliminate these, outside of the ones of my conscious choosing.

I wanted to experience life in a way that transcended traditional categories and that challenged everything I had ever seen or heard. Someone else made up all of these things, likely in their self-interest. I’m sure some of these roadmaps were paved with good intentions, but they can be so confining, so restrictive, and that’s not what’s best for fully experiencing life.

You must remember, I knew essentially nothing about coastal Mississippi, so it was the perfect blank slate. I asked a lot of questions, but I predominately chose to just pay attention to everything around me. You see, what people say and what I observe are often two very different things.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t like being told much of anything. Not to mention, whatever is said is immediately biased based on the person who is saying it. I like exploring, discovering, and creating for myself. It’s what life means to me. It’s how I interact with the world.

For example, I had no idea Ocean Springs, Mississippi, even existed. I had no idea it had breathtaking sunsets, a world class art vibe, and James Beard award winning chefs. I had no idea that it would be voted one of the coolest towns to visit in America this coming year.

It’s an ideal environment for anyone who craves freedom, and it’s a perfect home base for anyone who wants to cultivate life and its endless possibilities.

But let’s be clear about one thing. To the first time reader or untrained eye, it may appear that my life changed because I quit my job, moved to Mississippi, travelled a ton, began the golf journey, etc. I can assure you this is not the case.

I changed my life by actively practicing the above mantras over and over. Embracing life as a whole and looking inward. Daily. Sometimes hourly. For almost four years now.

Nothing fancy. Just a full commitment to living. I’ll be back in my own bed soon enough.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Life or Likes: An abk Perspective

There once was a man named jneB. In his mid-thirties, he decided he was going to pivot and start a new, more intentional, more conscious life. A large piece of that life was that he wanted to play golf every day. And so he did.

Along the journey, he kept getting asked lots of questions.

What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to be a tour player? How do you make money playing golf?

He just kept his head down and kept working to get better. He made some changes and got worse for a little while, but then he get better again. Then he made a few more changes, got worse again, and then started getting better again.

But the questions kept coming. Are you trying to play golf for a living? How many followers do you have on social media? You’ve never had a hole in one?

Meanwhile, he just kept grinding and enjoying doing what he wanted to do every day, which was play. His son joined him some days to play, and while some might consider this a distraction to his getting better, jneB cherished it and saw it as an enhancement to his day.

But the questions kept coming. How much longer is this going to take? Are you really getting better? Are you still enjoying this?

Meanwhile, he kept grinding, kept playing some of the world’s beautiful courses. He played in Iceland, Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Texas, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. He played in Mexico again.

But the questions kept coming. What would you consider success along this golf journey? How many days in a row have you played? How many more days is this going to last?

Meanwhile, he kept playing golf. Aside from hurricane days, travel days, and injury days, he played or practiced every single day. 450+ days in, he had broken par multiple times. He had broken 70. He had become a plus handicap. He even had achieved one of the rarest achievements in the sport, an albatross. Most importantly, he had learned an immense amount about himself, what he wanted in this life, and his place in the world.

But the questions and comments kept coming. You are a long ways away, aren’t you? You really aren’t THAT good. Are you in a slump? Surely this must get boring?

After a while, he begin to wonder to himself. I appreciate the support and curiosity, but it’s an interesting place, this world. I’ve finally summoned the courage to get off autopilot and pursue a very intentional internal journey, one that directly or indirectly could be extremely helpful to other people. But I think some folks are entirely missing the point, still focused on some specific external outcome. The end is totally irrelevant. As long as I keep grinding, keep a good attitude, and stay open to life, I promise beautiful outcomes will keep happening. To what extent, that’s out of my control.

Finally, he got a question that he felt compelled to respond to. jneB, you really are trying to live your BEST life, aren’t you?

So he spoke up. BEST life? I don’t know about you, but this is my ONLY life, and I finally learned to treat it as such.

Have a great week.-jneB

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abk Living: The Simplification of Life

Along the abk journey, one of my absolute favorite exercises has been the application of the Does This Matter Test to literally everything in my life. Said another way, is a potential thought, idea, person, place, or action going to get a single iota of my attention? Or, as is so often the case, is something just BS and a complete waste of energy?

The Does This Matter exercise can be applied to whatever depth one personally deems necessary. It can be complex. Does this matter in the grand cosmos of things? It can be simple. Does this logistically matter in making today work? This exercise takes a little courage, partial consciousness (at a minimum), a tad bit of self belief, a dollop of restraint, some common sense, and, as always, free thinking.

For me, it was an active exercise at first, but now, it’s built into my being. It just happens.

Will this make my life better?, someone may ask. I don’t know exactly what this question means, but the Does This Matter exercise frees me to explore the richness, depth, and potential inside of me. On the exterior, it enables me to explore life itself and what I think actually matters.

At a minimum, it should help make your life, more intentionally, yours.

As an example, on Sunday night, I head towards bed about 8 pm. THIS matters to me. On Monday morning, I wake up in the 4am hour. 4am to 6am is my time. I listen to or read something inspiring, something limit pushing. I watch the sun rise. THIS matters to me.

For the 8 or so hours I spend at the pro shop, I don’t overcomplicate things. We’ve got customers, and I want them all to have a great time. If someone truly wants to get better, I try to help them. That’s it, but IT matters.

When I pick up my son, I want to know if he had a super duper big bad Monday. He talks. I listen. Sometimes we rock out. THIS matters.

Back at the golf course later that day, two things are going on. I am trying to get really good, and I am trying to enjoy nature with my son. We point out every animal or beautiful tree. We watch the sun set. He tells me I didn’t make enough birdies. THIS matters.

Dinner matters, both the actual food/drink and the experience. Christy, Banks, and I usually eat together, usually something tasty, often watching Family Feud. THIS matters.

After dinner? Stretching and abk. THIS matters. After that, who knows?

On Tuesday, it may be exactly the same or completely different. That’s what my pre-6am is for. Purpose. Intent. Clarity. A re-centering. An opportunity to eliminate any iota of confusion or negativity, if by chance any has crept in. THAT certainly matters.

There are a lot of fancy quotes and BS buzzwords out there, but at the end of the day, life is about living, all that is around us and all that is within us. And we all have the freedom, should we journey from autopilot closer to the fully conscious, to explore our potential and decide what really matters.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Living: It is Possible…

“Impossible is nothing.”-Adidas

As a mid 30 something with pretty stout ankylosing spondylitis, I really had no business running the New York City Marathon back in November 2017. Definitely not after I got strep throat multiple times immediately leading up to race day.

I certainly had no business doing it again the following year. Most definitely not after I was stricken with illness and injury for the vast majority of the typical training period throughout 2018.

It was an unlikely proposition when I was in Italy in 2017, leaving Venice via train early one morning to catch the noon kickoff in Milan and then the evening kickoff in Bologna just a few hours later. 2 Serie A matches. 3 major Italian cities. 1 twelve hour period. If only I spoke Italian. Unlikely.

It was an improbable circumstance that I decided to give up my prime earning years to play golf every day in southern Mississippi. In the past just over a year and a half, grinding 455 intense golf days and nearly 2500 focused hours in hopes of achieving a virtually impossible goal a few years down the road.

I could go on and on.

Then there’s making an albatross, a 2 on a Par 5, joining the rare double eagle club, on Golf Day 453. Not impossible, but pretty damn close.

I’ve never been struck by lightning. I’ve never had a hole in one. Per the pure math of it all, I should have had both happen, the latter multiple times, before recording an albatross. But I digress…

I decided to play 9 holes late Saturday afternoon with two of my friends. It was chilly, and the course was packed. After waiting some 20 minutes to tee off, about 3pm CST, away we went. After a lazy bogey on 1 and an equally lazy par on 2, I decided I would try to get one back on the par 5 3rd. Playing roughly 520 yards, I decided to pop one just for giggles. I succeeded, leaving myself 196 yards to clear the pond fronting the green and 218 yards to a back right pin. After using some intense quantum physics to calculate the true yardage in the increasingly cold air, AND waiting for the foursome in front to clear the green, it was go time. I figured 4 iron would be perfect, giving me a high probability for birdie and a slight possibility for eagle.

Screw all that. Why not just hit the ball directly into the hole? I hit it perfectly, the ball never left the flag, and three bounces later it came to rest in the hole. I hollered at my playing partners, then immediately drove up to confirm what I thought I saw. Sure enough, on a par 5, I had put the ball in the hole on my second shot. Holy crap, I thought! 6 million to 1 odds, one expert said. Something that has never been done on that hole in the 18+ year history of the course, we believe. I was buzzing…

Listen, let’s not be silly here, it was just dumb luck. I haven’t been able to make a 3 foot putt in two weeks, but I can hit a 218 yard shot, with all of the potential twists and turns, straight in the hole? This is what I’ve learned to love and embrace about life. Dumb luck and chance are not to be ignored.

Honestly, I could care less about each of these tick marks on my ever growing life resume, but I absolutely love the expansion of self and possibility that each limit-pushing experience represents.

In the past few years, I have had so many of these beautiful experiences. Not just in sport. In life. Unlikely experiences. Improbable experiences. Dare I say, impossible?

I used to look at that Adidas commercial, and dream to myself, I wonder what the hell they are talking about? I’m starting to understand, to believe, to do. In another dimension. On another level. Maybe my ridiculous goals aren’t all that ridiculous after all.

Have a great week.-Benj

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