Your stories: How Rory McIlroy's book recommendation got me through the pandemic

Rory McIlroy
Golffile

Throughout this difficult period, Golf News Hub will explore what it’s like to actually live through this moment. Here we will print your stories about how this is affecting you, your family, your friends … your daily life. Email us your story.

Here is the ninth essay in our series. (Read previous essays here.)

I came across a fascinating book — The Obstacle is the Way — by Ryan Holiday, in the most unlikely way.

Like millions of golfers around the globe, I had been watching The Players Championship on television, and after the first round had been completed on March 12th, the rest of the tournament was cancelled. Cancelled!

Because the highly contagious Coronavirus had become a pandemic, the whole world was shutting down. In the U.S., Governors issued Executive Orders telling us to stay home. To shelter in place. Life, as we knew it, ceased to exist.

At some stage, I caught a sliver of an interview on TV with Rory McIlroy, where he described some books he was reading that influenced his on-course performance. McIlroy is the current Number 1 player in the world. My ears perked up. I was curious and wanted to explore The Obstacle book that he mentioned.

The minute I began reading The Obstacle is the Way, I was astonished, because it felt like it was written just for me, delivering the precise information that I needed in this moment. I was not just coping with the Stay at Home Order, I was faced with having to move — in the middle of a pandemic!

I was not exactly cheerful about my circumstances. I was leaving my spacious sanctuary for a much smaller space. Shrinking is just not my nature. Expanding is what I choose. Always.

My own daily mantra/prayer/affirmation always starts out:

I experience only abundance…in lifestyle, in inspiration, in great connections, in finances.

I’ve added to that…and wisdom.

Then I go on:

I give thanks for all abundance and support I have in my life.

I’ve added to that too…and guidance.

And look what showed up — this book!

The book offers the ancient wisdom of Stoicism but translated into 21st century language and provides examples of everyday obstacles we face. The core of Stoicism is to know the difference between what is in our control and what is not and teaches us to focus on things where our own input matters (things we can control) and don’t waste time on things that are not in our control.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced millions of people to isolate from everyone outside of our homes. To live, shall we say, a much more quiet, less social, life.

For many of us, the virus is a monumental obstacle, disrupting all areas of life. But if we recognize that the most important thing we can control is how we adapt to our new circumstances, instead of focusing on fear and other negative aspects of the experience that make us even more afraid and frustrated, we can embrace how precious life is.

Maybe some of us have forgotten what we value. What we cherish. But by putting our attention on the process of being the best version of ourselves in these challenging times, we have a chance to discover who we really are.

This time of restrictions and confinement came with an unexpected gift for all of us — less running round and more time to slow down and catch our breath.

It is a time to take an internal audit. To do a reset. To explore what is important, now that so many distractions are absent from our daily lives. We can practice being more in the present moment and embrace the gift we are given — the gift of time.

In my own case, I can now embrace the benefit of a smaller space. As I applied the guidance of Stoicism in dealing with my move, I discovered that my smaller space is enabling me to be free to travel with less worry (or no worry!) when the world eases into some kind of normality.

- Taba Dale
Scottsdale, Ariz.

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