If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
There is no such thing as natural touch.
Touch is something you create by hitting millions of golf balls.
Lee Trevino (1 Dec 1939 – )
This outstanding golfer knows what he is talking about. Outstanding why? Well. twice he won the U.S. Open (1968 and 1971). twice he won the British Open (1971 and 1972), twice he was the PGA champion (1974 and 1978) – and that record unequivocally earns him the adjective. And although he clearly and specifically has golf in mind, this is one of those statements that carries relevance far beyond its intended audience.
It’s a thought many a teenager – not to mention young as well old adult – might well take to heart as she struggles to ‘make it’ in whatever endeavor she has set her mind on.
Consider just sports: how many times do you have to power a ball over the net before you get to go to Wimbledon? how many times do you have to score on a penalty kick to get to play in the World Cup? how many times do you have to mount a winner before you get to ride in the Kentucky Derby? how many laps in the pool do you have to do before you get to swim at the Olympics?
Remember the tourist in town who asked the New Yorker:
“How do I get to Carneige Hall?”
“Practice, man, practice!”
And beyond sports? Painting, architecture, academics, medicine? How many incisions incised, how many publications published, how many award-winning designs designed, how many brush strokes brushed … before you are an accomplished expert?
Clearly, then, a précis of all this comes down to a very simple, even tedious formula: practice, practice, and practice some more. Now, if you are endowed by your maker with something like ‘touch’, good and fine, but it proves nothing and guarantees even less. The world is crawling with very talented do-nothings. I’d much rather be born with drive than with talent.
There is, unhappily, abroad in the land this grotesque notion that one ‘deserves’ to be talented, to pass, to graduate – effortlessly, and simply because you are who you are in all your immured specialness — all in the foolishly sacrosanct belief that any natural and distributionally normative arrangement of talents and abilities would simply be too … too UNFAIR!
My point is simply that if you have been (as, incidentally, almost by definition almost all human beings have) short-changed at birth in these arenas, you can, like Trevino, do something about it “by hitting millions of golf balls”. Now just imagine if, for example, you’d been born physically compromised or surpasingly ugly … well, you are no less human but there isn’t much you can do about your genetic baggage, for no amount of drive or determination or practice is going to alter those facts – in this case you are probably pretty much stuck with what you’ve got.
I think about all of this from time to time.
I am grateful that I still can swing the club … and complain less.