I drove up to Jacksonville on Saturday night after certification class. I booked a hotel downtown overlooking the St. John's River, and the view was lovely.
In the morning, I did my full AYP routine and then ate breakfast at the overpriced buffet in the hotel, but I didn't mind the cost. Then I drove to the New World Disc Golf course, which was hosting the final professional tournament of the year.
The best players in the world had made it to the final round: Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, Simon Lizotte, and James Conrad. And there was one more, a much lower-ranked wildcard named Dana Vicich. I've been watching these players on YouTube for the past year, so it was quite surreal to finally see them in person.
The regulation of the spectators was loose and nearly nonexistent, so I was able to literally stand about 10 feet away from the tee pad with a couple of other earnest fans. The rest of the fans were in golf carts or standing on the side of the fairways. I studied the players meticulously. Their body mechanics, their facial expressions, their gait and other details. I felt like I was in a movie most of the time.
I started talking to another spectator, who turned out to be an avid player from Clearwater, and we knew some of the same people. We talked about getting together to play in the future, so that was reassuring.
As we approached the 18th hole, James Conrad was in the lead, but he shanked a drive into the woods, and he lost 2 precious shots in the process of pitching out. I was positioned in the fairway, and he walked over close to me and kept shaking his head. He was filled with disappointment. I wanted to say to him: "It's OK, man. Breathe through it. There's still a chance. You're playing great." But I held my tongue, because I felt like he needed to process his own emotions and recover without interference, despite how benevolent my intentions might have been.
James wasn't able to pick up the strokes he lost, and Ricky ended up winning the tournament. At the awards ceremony, all the players were signing autographs, so I indulged myself and had them sign a mini-disc I had bought in the club store. I hadn't asked for any athletes' autographs since attending a spring training baseball game as a young teenager over 20 years ago, so my experience was kind of like returning to that state of starry-eyed adolescence. I was happy to surrender to a burst of renaissance from my youth. Also, Nate Sexton (who recently won the U.S. Championship and is an excellent commentator on the YouTube coverage) happened to be in the clubhouse, so I ended up getting his autograph too.
When I left the golf course, I felt a twinge of sadness, not because I was leaving, per se, but because I still yearned for much more connection. I wanted to hang out with the athletes like they were my good buddies. I wanted to get to their level. I still felt like a bit of an outsider, even amongst the spectators. I wanted to penetrate the inner and outer circles. Also, there was the fact that I happened to be in Yogani's hometown, and meeting up with him was not granted as an option, despite the many hours I had devoted to spreading AYP and his teachings.
But the sadness didn't linger long or cast an oppressive cloud over me. I started singing and jamming out on the ride back to Tampa. I envisioned boosting my local connections there, and settling into the groove of gradual progress.
Sometimes, the primal desire to merge with the Chosen Ideal is so strong that such an impulse beckons for instant results, as if a push of pure will from the gut, heart, and mind could make it happen in a lightning flash. Maybe it could happen like that one day—you never know. Until then, it's business as usual.
Be still, and flow.