The easy way

Charlie Schaubel called me last Saturday morning. "Hey, John," he said, "I’ve got a place to teach."

If you read my last blog – "Focusing on the target" – then you know that I took golf lessons from Charlie last year. But the driving range where he taught had been sold, and after 35 years in the business, he had no place to work. He had tried other facilities in the area, and been turned down. He was running out of money, he was tired and he was depressed.

Oddly enough, I was going through a rough patch myself, and it is one of the curious aspects of life that what you can’t or won’t see about yourself invariably shows up in people around you.

In writing about Charlie, I realized that both of us were resisting something. Charlie had limited his search to stay as close as possible to the driving range. I had locked onto ideas that I thought encompassed my new career, and turned my back on journalism.

But something had shifted for Charlie, and I was curious to know what it was.

He said that over the years, people had encouraged him to visit a place called Little Mountain. But it was south and east of town, too far from the range and his clients. But last week, desperate, he finally visited the place.

When he told the owner he wanted to teach there, the guy said no problem. "Then he tossed me the key to a golf cart and said ‘Take a look around,’" Charlie said. "I drove around the course and there are some beautiful views. There’s a mountain there, and a state park nearby with all this pristine land. It’s really beautiful.

"Then I went to the cart shack, and the guy working there said he’d been there for seven years and loved it."

He paused for a moment, and I pictured him shaking his head.

"It’s so weird," he said. "Here I was trying to go north all this time and kept running into bullshit and insecure people. When I went south, it was easy. And just in time, too. Whew!"

This is not the first time I’ve come across the notion that things should be easy. A couple of years ago, after a frustrating conversation with a woman I was dating, I ran into my friend Joe.

Joe listened patiently while I fumed and ranted, and when I was done, he said, "Y’know, from the time I met Steph (his wife, Stephanie), it’s always been easy."

There was very little about my relationship that was "easy." On the other hand, getting into acting two years ago was a veritable template for "easy." A director made the suggestion. Another director seconded it and introduced me to an agent. The agent told me to get  pictures taken. I did, and we put together a "comp card," and suddenly I had an agent, a new career and, two months later, my first job.

I had to take acting classes —  and get over the shock of seeing how terrible I looked on-camera — but there was indeed something easy about the process, a flow to it that I was no longer feeling.

So about the same time Charlie visited Little Mountain, I called an editor and asked for an assignment. In researching and writing that story, I was reminded that one of my gifts is story-telling. To think that I could pursue a life of authenticity without using all my gifts had been remarkably foolish.

Later that day, I picked up Deepak Chopra’s "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success" from a shelf where it had been gathering dust for years. Leafing through it, I discovered that what my friend Joe calls "easy" is what Chopra refers to as the Law of Least Resistance.

"When you remain open to all points of view – not rigidly attached to only one – your dreams and desire will flow with nature’s desires," writes Chopra. "Then you can release your intentions without attachment and just wait for the appropriate season for your desires to blossom into reality."

Charlie had been working at a noisy, run-down little dump for so long he’d become habituated to it. He figured that’s about what he deserved. But when he found Little Mountain, what I heard in his voice was amazement and something very close to joy.

For Charlie Schaubel, who found his new home just as the redbuds and dogwoods began to bloom, "blossom" is, indeed, the word.

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