Alex was pretty sure he was going to lose a couple of toes after this. The cold had crept through his clothing and into his bones days ago. At first it was uncomfortable. Then it was painful. Now he was just numb. He was glad the pain was gone, but he was coming to grips with the prospect that the lack of feeling in his extremities was a sign of something terrible to come.
For now he was just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, fully committed to completing his mission. The thought of turning back was a luxury he couldn’t allow himself. He had passed the point of no return days ago. There was no way in hell that he would come this far just to back out.
Besides, he was here for a reason. The prize he sought would be worth it all. He was finally nearing the end of a quest that had taken him the better part of the last 5 years of his life. Some would call him obsessed. He preferred to think of it as dedicated. He turned his thoughts back across that 5 years and used it as his motivation to press on.
It was almost 5 years ago exactly that this journey started, he thought. He could remember that first day like it was moments ago. He was sitting in front of his computer, skimming through You Tube videos when he saw it. He had never seen anything like it. The image on the screen captivated his imagination and immediately put a stranglehold on all of his focus. He had to have one.
That one YouTube video started a search of epic proportions. Alex started by combing through hundreds and hundreds of hours of similar videos. Every once in a while, he’d catch a glimpse of what he was after. Every so often, he spotted the prize that he was coming to covet more and more every day. But no matter how much he spent on video software and no matter how nice of a monitor he purchased, he just couldn’t see the thing clear enough to know where to get one for himself. Try as he might, he couldn’t clearly identify the markings on it so he would know what, exactly, it was.
In that time he turned to every related on line forum, Facebook group, and message board in an effort to find out how to get one of these gems for himself. He followed every lead, every thread, and every recommendation that these on line groups could provide. He purchased item after item after item from on line stores hoping against hope that it would turn out to be what he had seen in that original video.
Thousands of dollars and countless hours into the search, he turned to the private collectors. The dark and sometimes seedy group that hoarded these items for themselves. These collectors could tell Alex the origin and ingredients of everything in their collection. They could tell him intricate stories of why each thing in their collection was valuable. They could even be convinced to part with items in their collections for the right price.
So Alex spent more money and more time. Sometimes he came close to his goal. Sometimes he thought he had finally seized that which he coveted most in this world. But he was always disappointed in the end. He kept going back to that first video. Every time he watched it, he renewed his commitment to his search. He swore an oath to himself that he would taste victory at any cost!
Alex had grown distant from his friends and family in these past 5 years. Instead, he spent every free moment immersing himself in the online community that revolved around the item he sought. He worked as little as possible, slept as little as possible, and left his house as little as possible so that he could devote the entirety of his existence to his search.
Now, 5 years in, he truly believed that he was almost there. A month previous, he had received an item in the mail that was so close to what he was looking for that he quit his job, left town, and tracked down the original owner. That owner finally shared with him the source of that item. They also shared a tale with Alex of a guru hermit living in the mountain tops of South America who hoarded the items he sought. He had a cave full of them. That cave is where the item Alex had just received had come from. That cave is where Alex was headed now.
As Alex struggled through the 10 foot drifts of snow and ice that blocked his way, he finally saw it. Ahead in the gloom he saw what he had come for. The cave was exactly as it had been described to him. Coming from inside the cave, light provided a beacon of hope. Alex forgot all about his frostbite. He forgot all about the last 5 years of sitting in front of a computer. He forgot about it all except that first You Tube video. The item would soon be his.
As Alex made his way to the cave, his mind raced. His heart sped up and his feet moved faster. This was it, this was the moment! He stepped into the cave.
The cave felt like it was a good 50 degrees warmer than outside. The fire that was set was giving off a warmth he hadn’t felt in weeks. He raced over to the fire, tears in his eyes. He almost missed the small figure sitting quietly on the far side, hidden in the flickering shadows cast by the flames. That figure watched Alex with curiosity.
Alex looked up and saw the small, old man and wasn’t sure how to react. He had constructed a picture of what this person would look like in his mind, and this small, frail old man was not it.
“Are you the keeper of the disc?”, Alex asked.
“Kind of.”, The man said simply.
“Um, kind of? What’s that supposed to mean? Do you know why I’m here?”
“Yes, you are here for the same reason that countless others have come here. You are here because you have wasted a good portion of your life sitting in front of a computer looking for something that you think will fulfill your wildest wishes and dreams.”
“If you have what I came for, it won’t have been wasted at all, my little friend. If you have what I came for it will be worth every late night, every lost friend, every moment spent inside on a beautiful summer day, everything. So, do you have it?”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean? I almost died getting here and all you can do is give me some kind of cheap Yoda rip off answer? So I’ll tell you what, Yoda, you either have or have not, there is no ‘kind of’!”
“In order for me to answer that question, I need to know specifically what it is that you seek.”
Alex ripped off his backpack. He fished around inside until he freed his MacBook. He pulled it out, opened it, started the YouTube video he had saved to disc and pointed.
“That. That right there. You see that? I want that. That is a disc golf disc that flies better than any other that’s ever been made. Do you see how it flies? Do you see how it does exactly what the guy throwing wants it to? He’s throwing that one disc on just about every line imaginable. It’s magic I tell you, magic! That’s what I’m here for. Do you have it or not?”
“OK little man, you have about 5 seconds before I kill you, roast you over that fire, and eat you. Stop saying ‘kind of’ and fork over the magic disc.”
“My friend, it is not me you should be angry with. It is yourself. You have had this magic disc all along. Did you bring your disc golf bag with you?”
Alex had been told by the collector that had given him directions to the cave that he would need to bring his disc golf bag with him. It seemed like a waste, since he was going to pick up a new disc, not play disc golf. But he had done it anyway. He opened it up and set it down in front of the old man.
The old man reached down into the bag and grabbed a Roc out of the bag. He handed it to Alex and said, “This is the disc that you seek.”
“What? That’s just a DX Roc. That’s nothing special. That’s not magic. What are you trying to pull?”
“Oh, you are right, what was I thinking?”
The old man reached back into the bag and pulled out a Z Buzzz.
“Here, this one, this is the one you seek.”
“What? I just put that in there a few weeks ago. I got it online just like anyone else could have. How can you sit there and tell me that that is the disc I’m looking for?”
“Oh my. You are right again. Hang on a second.”
The old man then put a serious look on his face, pulled Alex’s bag closer, and rooted around for a while. He pulled out a disc, looked it over, put it back. He pulled out another, gave it a good inspection, put it back. He did this for a while. Then, with a satisfied grunt he decided on a somewhat beat up classic Truth.
“This one. This is it, I am sure of it.”
Alex was fuming. That Truth was one of a stack that he owned. There was nothing special about it at all. It couldn’t possibly be the disc he sought. He had lost all patience at this point.
“Old man, I swear upon all that I hold dear in this world, if you don’t stop messing with me, I’m going to do something neither one of us will be very happy about tomorrow.”
“Alex, sit down.”
There really wasn’t much else Alex could do, so he sat.
“Alex, what did you come here for?”
“The magic disc. I told you that.”
“OK. So you are looking for a disc that has magic in it, right?”
“Yes, I showed you the video, remember?”
“Yes, I do. Alex, what is magic?”
“What is magic?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Clearly. You described the disc in the video as magic because it did whatever the person throwing it wanted it to do. If they wanted it to fade, it faded. If they wanted it to turn over, it did. If they wanted it to go straight, presto, like magic, it did. Is that a fair description of this ‘magic’ that you seek?”
“Hey, you are finally catching on old man!”
“And do you really think that that person you saw in the video can only throw those shots with that one disc you saw?”
In the last 5 years, Alex had never considered this question. Everyone on line had assured him it was the disc. Everyone on Facebook had told him they had played with such a disc. He was certain it was a disc that he was after. What was this old man trying to say?
The old man saw the growing confusion on Alex’s face.
“Alex, my poor boy. Did you even stop to notice who was in that video? Did you even see that they hold several world titles and have been playing disc golf since they were old enough to hold a disc? Did you consider at all that there might be actual skill, and practice, and knowledge involved? Did you ever think about these things?”
“Well, sort of. I mean I know there is skill and practice needed, but I need the right disc first. If I don’t have the magic disc, why bother practicing?”
“Alex, the practice IS the magic. The skill IS the magic. That guy in the video could make any of the discs in your bag right now do what you saw on that video. The Roc, the Buzzz, the Truth, any of them. There is no such thing as a magic disc.”
Alex was beginning to come to a horrifying realization. He was beginning to think he might just have done all of this for nothing.
“Alex”, the old man continued, “do you know that if you had spent even a fraction of the time you spent on line talking about disc golf actually out in the field practicing that you would already own a whole bag of magic discs? Do you see that you spent thousands of dollars on discs that all pretty much fly the same? Do you understand that disc golf is a sport? Sports are meant to be played, Alex, not studied endlessly while collecting equipment. Look in Ken Climo’s bag, or Barry Schultz’s bag, or Steve Brinster’s bag. Look in any pro’s bag that has been playing for a while and you know what you see? Molds that have been out forever. You see discs that have been in their bags for years. They are all ‘magic’ discs because those guys have hundreds and hundreds of hours of actually throwing those discs invested in each and every one of them.”
Alex was beginning to not want to be in this cave with this old man any more. This just couldn’t be the explanation. It couldn’t be!
“Alex, do you realize how much fun you have missed over the last 5 years because you were sitting in front of a screen instead of out playing? Do you realize that most of the people you were taking advice from on line can’t play their way out of a paper bag? Do you realize that the real players in this game, the ones with real skill and ability, spend the bulk of their free time on a course or in the field? Alex, I hate that you came all this way to learn this, but you could have had a bag full of magic discs years ago just by going out and playing with the discs you already had.”
Alex saw the error of his ways. He didn’t like it, but he saw it. There was nothing he could say or do at this point but leave. Silently, he stood up and packed his bags. He wiped the tears from his eyes and thanked the little man for his time. He turned around, left the cave, and headed home. The old man looked at the one thing that Alex had left behind. He grabbed the shiny piece of metal, walked over to a hidden corner of the cave, and put the MacBook on top of the the countless others that had been left there over the years by people just like Alex.
I hope you enjoyed the first Mind Body Disc disc golf parable! If you liked this, and you’d like to see more posts like it, please let me know in the comments below. Also, please consider subscribing to the blog. The more people I know are out there reading this stuff, the more motivated I am to write it![wysija_form id=”1″]