Joy from others

By Joe Rector

The news media, regardless of which station or what persuasion, thrives on discord and animosity. Only occasionally does a national, cable, or local station give the simple facts. Even the major paper in Knoxville concentrates on problems and tragedies that come with each new edition. Of course, they do; that’s what sells papers, increases program ratings, and drives advertising revenues. Yes, our lives are sprinkled with these dark events, but most of us common folk have plenty of “good news” and occurrences in our lives.

Last week I marked an item off my bucket list. I’ve slapped golf balls around for years. Since I don’t have a PGA Tour card, moving the ball from behind a tree or a couple of inches to improve my lie happens from time to time. When I play with friends, I always tell them that I will go last, even if I win a hole. Over time, being in that position feels normal and comfortable.

As I was saying, I marked off an item. On hole number 5 at Knoxville Municipal Golf Course, I became the proverbial “blind squirrel that finds a nut.” Yep, the ball I hit rolled across the green into the cup; a hole in one. I’ve always disliked hole #5 because swings usually send that little white orb left and into the woods. Just before I hit this shot, I told Joe Dooley and David Ingram, “I hate this hole. It always winds up in the woods.“

Okay, I hit an ace, a lucky shot for sure. It just didn’t register at first. However, Joe and David cheered, as did a total stranger on the green on the last hole. They high-fived me, bumped knuckles, and slapped me on the back. Their actions took me by surprise, and for the rest of the day and even until now, I’m amazed by that.

My wife, son, and brother also had the same excitement when I told them. Folks at church came up to me to congratulate my good fortune. That happened nearly two weeks ago, and that one swing is already fading in my mind. The reactions of folks remain vivid. All reacted with sincere joy at my success. The smiles on their faces, especially those of my playing partners, were beaming. Dallas couldn’t have been happier if he’d hit the shot. Amy’s hug felt good, and her congratulations did too.

In today’s world, folks too often have aligned themselves with groups according to their political views and their stances on such things as religion and abortion. They seem to only care for like-minded individuals and turn blind eyes and deaf ears to those who have different views. Half the country seems to hate the other half.

Those are not the facts, and “that’s not the way it is” either. The majority of us go about our lives working, loving, playing and surviving. Because we might argue about some things, we simply skip over them. Instead, we come together in our anticipation and excitement for the upcoming Big Orange football season. Even though the week has sapped our energies, we travel to high school events to watch our children perform. We celebrate holidays with get-togethers and meals.

What has surprised me most about this bucket list item is the joy of others for my good fortune. These days too many people only celebrate their own personal achievements while envying those of others. I choose to believe that plenty of goodness and kindness exists in our country and the world today. It comes from real people with busy lives, not from the screen of a television or the front page of a paper. We have much to do to settle serious disputes in this place we call home, and my friends and family showed me it begins by celebrating the acts of others. Thank you all for the outpouring of joy. I won’t ever forget it.