Monday, December 7, 2009
Tiger Woods takes the phrase to a new level.
What is “The American Dream” anyway? Generally, it involves a house, a car, job security, a family, a neighborhood, a good reputation, social standing and physical wellbeing. The order of priority would be a matter of personal preference, I suppose. In general, spiritual wellbeing is not even part of the equation; not, at least, in the public square.
The old quandary for gift givers (what do you buy for the man who has it all?) would certainly apply in the case of Tiger. What would you buy?
When you ponder the question of achieving the American dream, thirty-three year old Tiger Woods would certainly be a candidate.
I have gone on record as being a fan. I’ll admit once more that I am one of the myriads of viewers who checks in mid-week to see if Tiger’s name is on the tournament roster. If so, then I’ll set the DVR. An open Saturday or Sunday afternoon is just that much better in high definition when Tiger is on the prowl on one of those picturesque courses made for wide-screen. Just the way he gets himself in and out of trouble keeps me coming back for more.
Maybe it’s the opulent houses, the choice of cars, the corporate jet, the picture perfect family, the access and the admiration of his peers. The rest of the guys on the tour gave up on catching him a long time ago. They all seem to have come to terms with the reality. Tiger Woods plays golf at a different level. He’s from a different planet, they’ll tell you. Our media drenched culture has rewarded him handsomely.
Sure, the opulence stirs the imagination of any one of us capitalist consumers. But my personal admiration has more to do with the game: that trademark performance under pressure. It’s hard enough for me to hit a shot when the other three guys are watching at the tee box. I can’t imagine striking a ball straight toward the pin while enveloped by a throng of eager admirers measuring every movement, just inches away. Then there are those cameras; the long lenses catching every subtle nuance, every inch traveled by a rolling white ball with the Nike logo. And on day four, when hundreds of thousands of dollars hang in the balance with every stroke of the club, every putt – the focus, the mental toughness, the eye-on-the-prize, the set up, the address and then the execution – it’s my kind of Sunday afternoon.
But now, Tiger is one more name on the long list of guys who by all appearances has it all, but doesn’t. Not really. Not anymore.
Which begs the question – what does it really mean to “have it all”? What is missing? And maybe that is a spiritual something after all.
There is lots of irony here. Who would have imagined that a one-hundred-sixty-three dollar traffic citation would mark the turning point? I have to admit it, I found myself in a state of denial as the news dripped out. “Not Tiger,” I said more than once and meant it. “No way.”
So now the one-liners are floating around like fireworks. Puns are back in vogue. With a name like Tiger, the possibilities are endless.
Maybe I just care about the guy. Not to let him off the hook or to excuse the inexcusable; but I’m just sappy enough to hope that in the crucible of this crisis, he figures some things out. Maybe it’s all those prayer meetings. Back in the day, we called this sort of thing an “unspoken” request. God knows. But we really shouldn’t talk about it. Not out loud. Not in mixed company.
Unspoken, unspecified requests are pretty well out the window anymore. Seems to me like the tabloid press has pretty well taken over the scene. Yellow journalism is print media’s last best hope. In the ratings game, Edward R. Murrow and Helen Thomas are relics of a distant, forgotten past. The media experts call for full disclosure – now. Sooner not later. We don’t have time to wait for film at eleven.
I hope that the Internet buzz has it wrong. The idea that Tiger can somehow buy silence or worse, buy back his stunningly beautiful Swedish wife, the mother of his two children, with massive bank deposits and a beefed up pre-nup misses the mark entirely. It will take considerably more than that if he wants Elin to stay with him as she has up until now.
They like to talk about Tiger as though he is a “brand.” He’s not a person in this view, he’s a publicly held corporation.
But there are some signals, however faint, that there is more. He seemed a little closer to it when he employed the ancient concept of “transgression.” Someone told me that he even used the word “sin.” I am hoping that maybe he’ll grasp other concepts like repentance. Remorse. Humility. Atonement. Rebirth. Forgiveness. Trust.
Transformation can happen. Even for the man who has everything.
Copyright Kenneth E Kemp