Times of Oman
On My Mind: The game of life
August 30, 2017 | 6:27 PM
by Siddhant Suri Dhawan
My newfound approach to life should not be confused with pessimism – it is enlightened optimism.
 
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Victory was within my grasp. I could almost taste it. The satisfactory ping was music to my ears; it was just the sound I yearned to hear. The ball flew like a rocket, whizzing over the water like an eagle, landed, rolled and sat still smack in the fairway. It was the perfect shot – a shot that would make any golfer turn green with envy. I beamed with pride as I waited patiently for my opponent to take his shot, convinced that I had won. I was leading by four strokes and victory was absolutely inevitable — or so it seemed.

My laser eyes followed his ball from the millisecond it left the tee. I sniggered inward as I saw it heading for the water, all while maintaining the composure that we as golfers are taught to exhibit. I had already started mentally rehearsing the sympathetic speech I’d give – a little piece on ‘good days and bad ones’. I never got the opportunity to deliver it. The ball landed in the water and rose from it like a phoenix from the ashes, hit a rock and a tree in a reckless fashion and landed right in the hole.

A hole in one on a par four. What are the odds! I was crushed. I put on my best fake smile and shook his hand, marvelled at his good fortune and feigned admiration for the exceptional skill my opponent displayed for the duration of the game, all while feeling like an anvil had dropped on my chest. I had to appear like a true sportsman – a man who takes his wins and losses with grace and humility. Prize distribution, press interview and ceremonial dinner followed and by the end I had recounted the ‘phenomenal shot’ to golf enthusiasts more than a dozen times.

It was just one tournament. There would be more. Besides, this was not my first tryst with loss. Then why did it sting so much? Why did I feel worse than I have ever felt before? Because I had spent months perfecting my putting, polishing my drive, grooming my chipping and sharpening my iron shots. I had put my heart and soul into the game and it all seemed to amount to absolutely nothing. I had lost to an abstract, intangible, unpredictable, whimsical and capricious opponent - luck. How is it this invisible force can render finer virtues like determination, perseverance, grit and preparation powerless?

I do not have the answer. I doubt I ever will. The memory of this ill-fated golf tournament dwindles day-by-day and the pain has worn off but it has grown to epitomise something far greater. I have discovered that the equation of success has no constants but an infinite string of variables. Such an equation is beyond the comprehension of even the most adroit mathematician. I have grown to accept this realisation as a universal law, an inalienable fact of life as indisputable as gravity and electromagnetism.

My game has improved, it’s almost unrecognisable. I now see it for what it really is – just a game, no more significant than Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders. I work harder than I used to, am more focused than before and am more ambitious than I’ve ever been all while accepting that my aspirations, dreams and hopes cannot always fructify.

This has become my modus operandi. My newfound approach to life should not be confused with pessimism – it is enlightened optimism. I no longer wrestle with my destiny but have chosen to embrace it, perpetually amused and excited by what it has in store for me.

(The writer is Grade XII student of Indian School Ghubra).


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