Friday, September 3, 2010

Holy Cow Love and Kindness

I've been reading Mary Karr's Lit. a memoir which traces her descent into a truly hellish alcoholic state. I love reading about drug and alcohol use, getting a vicarious thrill from tales of abuse I've been lucky to avoid, tales I might have written myself had I been less careful. There have been numerous enough bad drunks in my family it's as if there have been signposts over the years that read-- Bender Ahead or Caution: Beware of Blackouts. 

Part of her story deals with the difficulty she had accepting the "higher power" aspect of AA. I related to her skepticism regarding being force fed a diet of Evangelical stew. She put up an admirable fight playing the cynic to her sponsor's advocacy. One of the counter arguments got my attention, however. Her sponsor argues that it is less important who (or what) you pray to than the act of praying itself. I found myself thinking about what Eddie Merrins counseled during one of our conversations, not about going on the wagon, but about achieving a quest.

Eddie Merrins:
You’re talking about mechanical things. You’re talking about physical things. You’re talking about psychological things. Sooner or later you’ll get around to spiritual things. That to me is the four-part make-up of the golf game. It’s partly technical— yes, you need to understand how you like to swing, how you like to play shots. It’s partly physical, dealing with your physical well-being and the ability, if you have it, to put yourself in a relaxed state. But mentally you need the commands, the positive commands that let you produce. And you need to be able to deal with the emotions, the temper, the motivation, the highs and lows. Learning to be positive versus tentative and negative. And then character-wise, the spiritual part comes into play.
It’s partly physical, partly technical, partly mental and partly spiritual.  Spiritual meaning—it could come from religion, it could come from education, it could come from association, it could come from philosophy. Regardless of where it comes from, it breathes the character into the person.

For all my skepticsm, when it comes to the power of positive thinking on the golf course. I'm a true believer. It wasn't until I gave myself over to Eddie's advice that I was able to battle the demons to a draw.

Which raises the question: How does faith, belief, and actually praying alter us physiologically? This question has had some dicey new age answers like The Secret which taken in part I get but taken whole strains logic.

From Die Happy:

The concept is this: our lives are shaped by the energy we put into the universe. Visualize good things and good things will materialize. Put out nasty vibrations, as I had evidently been doing big time, and plenty more bad shit awaits you. To some extent this is undoubtedly true but the film’s hokey production values, maudlin music, and smug tone made the thing nearly unwatchable. I found myself running into the same roadblock over and over. What about the hundreds of thousands who died being swallowed by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean? Had they all been seeping such negativity that the universe saw fit to answer their collective whining en masse? Six million Jews? Children of abuse? Oh, yes father, that little altar boy totally had it coming . . .

I wouldn't argue with anyone of faith. If you fully accept some entity as your personal lord and saviour, I'm guessing you spend less of your time confused about the meaning of life and your part in it. So long as there is a divide between your faith and the right of others to think you're full of shit without banishing them to eternal damnation or, worse, trying to blow them up, I say have at it. And while I haven't fitted myself for a barmitzvah suit (a good thing since I'm in the process of losing so much weight-- okay, early in the process) I am going to give this a bit more thought. In the meantime, I'll continue to be a member of the Holy Cow Love and Kindness Church of the Great Outdoors. I worship every day without fail.

Die Happy by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon. Contact


  1. If you back up and read Karr's 'The Liar's Club' you'll discover how she came to meet that Higher Power. As one who is familiar with both golfers and AAer's, I have to admit that one holds the hand of the other.
    When will we see your book!????

  2. Still plugging away, at least my agent is. As she says wisely, it's like love (finding a publisher), it only takes one. I'd be happy to send it to you if you wouldn't mind an electronic copy . . .

  3. Hello Brock,

    I hope you had a great weekend. Would it be possible to get our site ( linked on your site ( We would greatly appreciate it.

    Best regards,

    Eric Demauro