Lost and Desperate Souls

I encounter a lot of lost and desperate souls, in real life and online. I love how they self-identify – unintentionally, of course. In the movie “Tin Cup” there are two scenes about the use of a variety of crappy, snake oil products promising to fix a golfer’s swing. In the first of these, Rene Russo has shown up for her first lesson with Kevin Costner and is starting to put these various fixes on her body:

KC: What is all this stuff?

RR: I got it from the Golf Channel.

KC: Well, it’s a waste of money.

RR: I’m sure there are some excesses and repetitions here, but I believe in gathering knowledge. There must be some truth to the golf swing illustrated here…I thought you would kind of help me sort through it. I have dozens of golf videotapes.

KC: Take it off.


KC: All of it, right now. All of it. You’re a smart woman, for chrissakes. Don’t you know the work of hustlers when you see it?

RR:Well, no. I mean…
…I can always tell when someone’s lying to himself. But I’m susceptible and frequently wrong when a person lies to me.

RR: This stuff cost me over $200 .

KC: It’s $200 worth of shit.

Later, in the second scene, Costner is at a crossroads and has developed a glitch in his swing. Russo catches him using the crap himself:

RR: Oh, Jesus, Roy. Quoting yourself, “It is a paraphernalia for lost and desperate souls.”

I think of this a lot. It is easy to buy into the allure of buying all the crap that is offered to solve your problems. The hard part is discerning the crap from the not-crap. There are tools that have value, but they also require certain characteristics of the user to be in place. In my less than humble, learning anything well requires a significant amount of self-honesty. One can’t accurately assess one’s own progress without being honest with the self about the observation and the assessment.

When I was in the Army I went through the Marksmanship Training Unit at Ft. Campbell, Ky to become qualified as a sniper. The instructors were very senior NCOs with a mission to teach soldiers who were already expert marksmen, to become much better. Much better. At distances out to 900 meters with a .308 rifle. One of these instructors, a retired command sergeant-major, had a simple philosophy – if you can’t be honest with yourself, you can’t shoot.

Each time you shot, he sat behind you with a big-ass spotting scope so he could watch the round go down range and hit the target (or not – although misses were very rare at this level).  When you fired, he said “Call it!” and the shooter was responsible for calling which direction (on the clock) that the front sight of the rifle jumped. If the shooter called the movement of the front sight in a direction that was not indicated by the path of the round, they heard this:

“Is someone lying to themselves? Your goddamn right someone is lying to themselves!”

His voice was strong and carried outside the shack to those who were waiting their turn.

Soldiers who could accept this principle, who could accept their lack of self-honesty and build it, improved their shooting and graduated. The others did neither. For them, it was much like the lesson in the “Phantom Tollbooth” – “some people can swim all day in the Sea of Knowledge and come out dry.”

This review, and others similar, of a swing speed sensor device on Amazon:

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
August 24, 2015
Absolute piece of junk. Tested the device numerous times using Driver, 6 iron in my garage setup with the Net Return. Multiple adjustments to register proper readings, and no matter the club or speed of my swing, the SS radar registered no more than 79mph. Do not waste your money on this !!! Returning it.

While it is possible the device was defective, it could also have been completely accurate (especially given the overall rating of the product) and this reviewer simply could not accept his slow swing speed. Which may not have been his only slowness.

There is often a reason for someone being lost and desperate…

Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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