Sad Tiger

OH, TIGER

"Change but the name and the tale is told of you."
– Horace  

Dear Tiger,

I do not know you and I do not want to join the chorus of those who have added to your pain with ridicule, ignorant judgments, and invasion of your privacy.  I write as an experienced psychotherapist who has done over thirty-five thousand hours of counseling—and a great deal of those hours have been spent dealing with affairs and their aftermath.  I want to offer some light for you amidst the darkness of these days. And I hope the light will help us all.

A long time ago Jesus dealt with an adulteress who was supposed to be stoned for her sin.  Jesus said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."  The Bible says that the people left the scene "One by one beginning with the eldest."  Then Jesus said "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more."  I wish for you, Tiger, that no stones will fly and that this dark period will not be one of condemnation, but of a walking in new light.  If people do not want this for you, what is their intent, their motive, their spirit?

Many people will have very simple views of what you are going through. Many people will think that they are better than you, but in many respects we are all just like you, except maybe we're not as good at golf.  It is not easy to see our similarities because we  look at your wealth, your fame, your professional stature,  your lovely wife and family and imagine that you have it all together.  Our covetous brains and envious "grass is greener" marketing culture insist that everything is beautiful at your Windermere Home in Isleworth. 

And now we know differently and we can come back down to earth and have you join us in the screwed up human race.

And so you are just like us… you excel in some things and you are flawed in others.  At times you are kind, at other times you are selfish.  At times you love your wife and see her beauty, at other times she drives you crazy.  At times she adores you, at other times you drive her crazy. At times you live a life of delayed gratification, at other times, instant gratification can wreck everything.  You lust, you love; some of the time it is a mixture. You have spotted evil and avoided its snare; you have been seduced by the Sirens.  Like us, you have felt impervious to moral law, and at other times you have felt its unbreakable truth.  You have felt invincible and were arrogant and proud; you have felt vulnerable and knew your limits.  You felt on top of the world, you felt alone and misunderstood.  At times you felt full and satisfied, at other times you seemed hungry for more, but for what you weren't exactly sure. And so, like us, you are searching too.

As with golf, the best get the best help and they get a lot of it.  You might find help in the wisdom of the past.  Read the story of Ulysses and the Sirens in Homer's Odyssey, slowly savor the stunning wisdom of Proverbs in the Bible, and hear the voice of Shakespeare:  "Lust is the expense of spirit in a waste of shame, past reason hunted, no sooner had, past reason hated."  Listen to Freud with his honest cry that we are all polymorphously  perverse in our depths and that the process of human growth and civility is one of strengthening our ego so that we can live well and wise—"Where id was, there ego shall be."  Pick up a copy of James Gustafson's Self-Delight in a Harsh World and get your bearings from a psychiatrist who has heard it all and read everything!

Like Gustafson, there are other experts alive today who know the ropes of the human soul just like your golf coach knows golf.  I hope you will hear the voice of David Schnarch, to my mind the pre-eminently wise sex therapist of our day, who would advise you that "Integrity is more precious than sex and, paradoxically, leads to the best sex."  If you know that you need a good kick in the pants, you can read Dr. Frank Pittman of Atlanta who cuts through a ton of B.S. with lines like "If you want to know if you are cheating on your wife, go home and ask her."  They all will tell you that the best rule in golf applies to life:  "When you are in trouble, don't get into more trouble." 

But we all do….time and time again.

As you sit with your troubles, and give your self lots of time to fix whatever needs fixing, you will be amazed at the depths, tangles, complexity, beauty and ugliness of all human beings.  This is why you need to see a therapist who has had great training and lots of therapy—because he or she needs to have dealt with their brokenness long enough not to look down at you with any superiority.  Such a therapist needs enough self-respect to take you on and call a spade a spade, and be competent enough to know, among other things, that "The light which shows us we are monsters is also the light that heals us."

You are lovely and you are a monster.  So am I.  So is everyone who reads these pages.
If someone reading these pages is not lovely, they could be.  If someone reading these pages is not a monster, they could be.  We all need grace and mercy and a God who does not want the stones to fly.

And what would someone wish for you instead of the stones of accusation and contempt that have come your way?  They would wish for you the wisdom of an old man whose loins have quieted down enough for him to see that there is nothing like the love between two people.  And there is nothing like two people building a kingdom of friends and (perhaps) children and family and personal goals that makes the world a better place.  This is substantial.  The old man looks back and he weeps at the moments of anger and misunderstanding and selfishness and blindness and familiarity that haunt every relationship.  He winces at the common poison where we act as if we own one another.  He ruefully acknowledges the power of alcohol or drugs or ambition or other partners or a thousand other things that have pulled him from the person he once loved with all his heart.  He sees too the things that have pulled his love from him. The routine.  The grind of countless obligations.  The taken for granted daily-ness of life.  And yet the old man knows it is not love that is blind.  He knows that love sees the wonder of the beloved.  The old man know instead that lust is blind, that Johnny Walker does not see, that power corrupts, that endless greed obscures the wonder of a common day, and that love and love alone builds a life worth living.

If we are lucky, we get to meet the old man and listen to him.

But the old man knows one more thing.  He knows that pain is the great teacher and that you will only really know these things when you come to a time such as this, when you are caught in your own folly and know in your bowels that wisdom is better than gold, that your word and honor mean far more than moments of pleasure, and it is at this hour that you will find out who really cares for Tiger Woods.  And they won't be the ones who are throwing stones.
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