A Letter To Tiger Woods from Alice Walker


Dear Tiger Woods,

I don’t know a thing about golf. I didn’t even realize golfers in your league can become rich. Is it right to become very rich from playing a game? At what point does the money matter more than the enjoyment of playing? When, in other words, as some of my own elders would say, does The Devil enter the picture? These are the questions that place themselves in front of my real concern: you.

I have never watched you play golf; I’ve seen you mostly in ads in airports. There’s one up now that I just saw in India: You are standing looking at a ball that seems nestled in an inaccessible spot on the bank of a creek: It’s the next move that counts, the writing says, or something like that. I thought it very true. It is your next move that counts.

My own view is that fame in America can be lethal; it is almost always too huge for one small person to support. It is also isolating and tiring. At the same time, it’s supposed to be exciting and thrilling and you’re supposed to want, and enjoy, all the fancy toys your new piles of money can buy. But where is the time to relax, not only with yourself, but also with the few people you really love and trust? And, what about the essential time one must spend with one’s dog? Or cat? Or chimp?

As your elder, I support you in your effort to try to crash out of a life that you had outgrown. And I feel compassion for your loved ones who must be as confused and hurt as you feel yourself. It is easy to see how hurt you are feeling by looking into your eyes, which I have recently done (via You Tube) in an effort to see how you, on a soul level, a heart level, are. Sometimes we feel crashing out of a life, by any means necessary, means we are done with life itself. The truth is that we’re only done with the life that no longer feels worth living. That is why we must bear the suffering until it begins to ease, and life shows us the possibility of a new direction. Is this the case with you?

I was thinking about you a lot over the holidays because holidays, when we are suffering in isolation and loneliness, are the most difficult days to get through. Everybody but us seems happily connected to others. We alone are flapping in the wind of our “freedom.” But millions of people are actually suffering just as we are. They too feel loss and pain and confusion. Loneliness. They too have a “next move that counts” and they too don’t have a clue what it is.

What is the counsel? Stay grounded. Go into Nature. Sit under trees. Watch birds. Know in your heart that it’s quite true that all things change, and pass. Next Christmas and New Year’s won’t be anything like this one. Already I imagine you, a year from now, laughing and joyful, happy simply to have the gift of life. Precious in itself, Life, no matter what else is going on.

You are a good person. Believe this; and continue with your life. All knots can, with patience, be sorted out. Ask forgiveness where this is necessary. Find the life that brings joy to your heart. Don’t hurry.

Blessed be!
Alice Walker

Cairo, Egypt

9 Comments

  • Kathy

    Thank you for speaking in a positive mode. I quickly tired of this “news” and wished he and his family peace and privacy. Blessings to all.

  • Julian Real

    I fear that Tiger Woods, like so many famous men with lots of power and support to believe that they are entitled to have what they want, will continue on his path of exploiting and abusing the emotional lives of women. I hope I’m wrong, but reportedly he is now with one of the women he’s been having an affair with, which isn’t going to leave him much room to contemplate the harm he’s doing to women.

  • FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK

    Hello to you Alice Walker,
    Such expressive thoughts. I read them as “loss” and what it can do to one’s soul. Whether it’s a lost job, a fall from stardom, or death. You capture the essence of bringing your life back into joy. Great to read your words.–barbara

  • Anonymous

    “Crashing out of a life you have outgrown” doesn’t necessarily equal sleeping with dozens of women behind your wife’s back. People also have several choices when it comes to fame. He was acclaimed for his talent, but became “famous” (and rich) after his exposure in dozens of advertising campaigns that you so often see at the airports and everywhere else. I’m sure he’s confused and hurt, just as we all get, however I did not choose to expose myself to fame in this way and have little sympathy for Tiger as he both publicly and privately deals with the consequences to his actions.

  • Sharon

    Very profound for anybody let alone someone famous and in trouble. I found the words spoke to me as a person and to others I know who are fighting the lonely “fight.” Thank you so much for that. It is a great way to start my new year!

  • FloridaGirl

    Anonymous poses an interesting question, Alice. You have given wise advise to Tiger, now what do you say to his wife, and more importantly, to his children?

  • Danna Ntaka

    Thank you for your words of wisdom. We all need the counsel of the elders. Your analogy of crashing out of a life is beautiful. At some level a crash awaits all of us, some crashes are suffered publicly and some are suffered anonymously. Either way, crashes do not last forever and mold us into more mature beings.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that this is a positive message that speaks to my own heart as I read it, though addressed to another person entirely, and of a different colour/gender. I too wonder what Alice would write to his wife and kids, but I suspect the counsel would remain the same: go slow, breathe life in, know that all things pass, and ask deeply for guidance as to one’s next move and, if applicable, forgiveness from loved ones and most crucially, self. We all make mistakes. Speaking to his heart and soul may do more to heal the situation overall then pointing the finger of blame and shame-shame-shame. He got his chastisement in bucketloads, and he’ll pay the price, but at some point, he/they/we have to move on. E.D.London