Walking down the first fairway during the start of one rare and beautiful round of golf, I basked in the warm sun that drenched my face and took several deep breaths letting the fresh air fill my lungs and rejuvenate my soul.
It had been a while since my feet walked these fairways and it was nice to be back. I thoroughly looked forward to the next 17 1/2 holes and four hours of fun and trash talking with my foursome of dear friends. My best friend was walking next to me, and I told him how much I missed being out on the course on a regular basis (before marriage, kids and a career, I played daily!).
“Well,” he said. “You should get out more.”
“I know, and I will eventually but now’s not the time,” I told him.
“Why, can’t you play once a week, I mean what’s the harm in that?”
“There is no harm,” I said. “But it’s five hours of my weekend and that’s five hours that I could be spending at home with my daughter.”
“Well, I understand that,” he said. “But you need balance in your life don’t you?”
“Believe me, I have plenty of balance.”
“Not if all you do is work and then spend your time at home with your family and doing other chores,” he argued. “You need time for you.”
As we approached the green and separated to prepare for our chip shots, I thought about this. Was he right? Did I need more balance, i.e., more “me” time, time to be with my friends, time to do the things that I want to do?
There was no doubt that I enjoyed these moments. I spent the last three days looking forward to this very day once I knew I was playing and the group was set. He was right, it was great to be out on the course again with my friends and sent me back to a time where I had time, where I could spend every minute playing or simply hanging in the bar with my friends talking smack about the day’s round and conjuring up challenges for the next day’s fun!
The reality, however, was that I had a new kind of fun. You see, my friend, as much as I love him, does not have a family. He does not have a son or a daughter, so he does not know the joy that one gets from being with his kid. He does not know what it’s like to be on the road and long for the simple pleasure of a family dinner talking about the day’s events, or reading at night before going to sleep, or playing outside and watching the joy on your daughter’s face as you spend invaluable time doing what she wants to do, not what you want to do! He probably saw that as a burden, a responsibility not to be enjoyed but to be obliged unwillingly.
As I thought about his perspective, I began to feel sad for him.
Yes, he was free in many ways that I was not. He was free to do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, save for the hours he had to be at work. Even then, there was nothing tying him down. If he decided he did not like his job, he could find something else or simply quit until something more suitable came along. He could play golf any day he wanted or sit in the bar as long as he wanted without a care in the world or without the constant nagging of a wife who wanted him home.
Yes, this was all true, but he lacked one thing very special. The love that a Father experiences with his child is something that cannot be explained unless you have experienced it yourself. Seeing your child happy is such a strong feeling that cannot be explained and when you spend 80% of your time in the office or on the road, you understand how valuable and precious those moments at home are.
It does not matter if you are watching a movie after a long day, or reading a book before bed, or playing basketball in the driveway. What matters is that you are home spending time with the family, a family that whether we like it or not is growing up ad will one day be gone.
Enjoying those fleeting moments and recognizing the importance of those moments is true freedom and when you are in them, not one person nor one task that burdens your mind can take them away from you. My friend was captive of his own monotony, a life ruled by the pattern of boredom and nothingness. He was the one who was stuck.
Me, I have the blessing of love and love is true freedom … a freedom that is priceless!