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.