Empty your mind, relax your shoulders

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Empty your mind, relax your shoulders


“Relax your arms” may be the most frequently offered advice for beginner golfers. How can you hit the ball with relaxed arms? The novice golfer’s shoulders are often tense and stiff because he does not know how a golf swing is supposed to look. If you are too eager to crush the ball, you often end up hitting the ground or missing the ball altogether. If your wrists and shoulders are tense, you look more like you’re chopping firewood, not swinging a golf club. It is no exaggeration to say that it takes three years to master relaxing your arms and shoulders.

It has been more than 10 years since I last played golf. When people ask me why, I jokingly say, “I’ve done a lifetime worth of swings already.” But frankly, I am not sure if I can relax. When I set out to the golf course, I am determined to empty my mind and relax, but by the time I start playing, I just don’t know what’s going in my mind. Naturally, I don’t play very well. So I gave up on golf and tell myself that I am saving a great deal of time and money.

When I went to Taiwan last week, I visited White Lily Pottery Studio in Baihe County, the biggest lily producing region in Taiwan. Lin Wen-yueh, master of light-colored ink paintings, drew lilies on pottery. The master drew lilies on a large piece of rice paper in front of visitors from afar. He suddenly stopped his brushstroke and said with smile, “If I want to do well, it doesn’t come out very good.” Even the master artist was struggling with his inner greed. It is truly difficult to empty one’s mind.

Writing is not much different. If I make up my mind to write a great piece, it doesn’t come out that way. When I am relaxed and write freely, readers often like these pieces better. Before I start writing, I should think deeply and carefully, but once I start writing, it’s better to dash off with one stroke of a brush. I have come to this conclusion after countless trials and errors. Greed spoils writing.

Psy’s success may come from his laid-back attitude. He never set a goal to make the most popular song in the world. Instead, he enjoyed his music and performance and went on to create an unprecedented sensation. If you look around, there are so many people who are aggressively chasing success. They are so eager to make it big. Each of the presidential runners is so determined that he or she has to become the next president, and this is the only opportunity. But they should not fret or be overly aggressive.

Empty your mind and relax your shoulders, and you may end up with a surprisingly pleasant result.

* The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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