“He deals the cards, as a meditation.”
There really is nothing like the present. I hope Aaron Rai and his dad are enjoying his success. I’m sure they are. The present moment has an allure to it I find, the past barely relevant, and the future important. Aaron deserves more credit than many will realise, because he never succumbed to the present, he and his dad, as far as I can tell, had a vision for him that extended well beyond the horizon. His unwavering commitment to his own process is rare.
When I was growing up, once I reached a certain standard I was invited to be part of national squads. Their understanding of “what it takes” was something I never questioned. I had little idea what I was doing, I was just a good golfer, breaking the occasional course record, and golf clubs. The only golfer who I can recall having such an idea of the future and what would be required to be a succesful Tour pro, was Tom Lewis (and his dad). Tom often did his own thing, not taking much notice of the coaches during training camps. He and his dad had a vision. A vision which proved to be fruitful, as Tom won one of his first events as a Pro on the European Tour. For Aaron, it’s fair to say that process has taken a bit longer, but that process was more extreme in his case, and it’s eventually yielded success. More extreme because he turned down the whole England Golf experience entirely.
I came across Aaron when I was 12 or 13, during our Wee Wonders years! But then I didn’t hear of him again until about two years ago, when he was winning on the Challenge Tour. The two gloves, iron head covers, and every other idiosyncracy Aaron possesses is a highlight of his unusual approach and style. Aaron is quiet, but extremely polite. He and his dad asked to speak to me a couple months ago at the British Masters because he had some concerns regarding a couple of issues. He came to me because of the fact I’m on the Players Committee and I guess, because I’m of similar age. This made me happy as that was a central reason I put myself forward to be on the Committee, so that other younger players (like myself) would hopefully come forward and feel comfortable speaking to someone when they had concerns. I feel proud of Aaron, not because I know him particularly well, but because he represents the kind of success that is highly unusual. He has shown a lot of resolve in becoming a very good golfer, and better still, a level of individuality that poses risks.
There are obviously different kinds of successful people in life, across all industries. There are men and women who tread paths which we would consider “conventional” and when they reach the dizzy heights, nobody is surprised. Also, when a person meets an expectation of them, it can end up feeling like somewhat of an anti-climax. Something that is surely slightly depressing for everyone involved. This is why I love short-sellers (economics). If I was an investor, I would probably end up a short-seller. I’m skeptical of all things good, I admire people who swim against the current, and I think proving people wrong is wonderful. Ann Coulter provided a highlight of 2016 for me, when she predicted Donald Trump would win the US Election. Everyone laughed in her face, yet she was proved correct. Aaron doesn’t remind me necessarily of Ann Coulter, but he is the kind of guy who will raise his head above the parapet (less publicly than Ann Coulter), and not be too concerned with what people think. We should really celebrate these types people.
Being young and ignorant and absolutely unaware of what is required to be great at something can feel like quite a terrifying thing. But once you get older, and things become clearer, and when success of sorts arrives, it comes with a reality that I sometimes find gut wrenching. A feeling of, “is that it?” “Is this feeling meant to be my reward for all the years of suffering and hard work?” Unfortunately, I think this represents adulthood for many. The journey of discovery is like nothing else. My first Thorntons chocolate was heavenly, now I just feel fat. The more that journey can be “your own”, the more it can be full of failure, shithousery, shame, intuition and decisions that you yourself make, the better the eventual success will feel. That’s why I find the present frustrating, because I find making sense of it difficult, and sometimes sad. Whereas the future is where the mind is liberated.
“He deals the cards to find the answer.”