Early last month, I was meeting with a friend and mentor for lunch. We were sitting in the dining room of his club, looking onto the golf fairways that ran along the property. As I perused all that my eyes could see through the windows, deep in thought, my eyes hung up on the fairways, their green hue a stunning contrast to the dying landscape which surrounded them.
My friend must have noticed my gaze lingering on the grass because he turned to me and said, “Do you know how they get it so green?”
Shaken from my daze, I quickly replied, “No.”
“Paint,” he said.
He could tell I was confused based on the quizzical look on my face, so he continued, “They paint the fairways in the wintertime to maintain the green.” Then he smiled at me, awaiting my reaction.
I was stunned, but not shocked. I smiled and we continued our conversation, moving on from the slight detour that the fairway had caused us. But I’ve thought about that fairway multiple times in the weeks since.
Even as I sit and write this, I’m snickering to myself as I think about the level that we go through to keep up outward appearances. We don’t care if the grass is dead or dying, we’ll do whatever it takes to put on the front and make everyone think that things are just fine.
How often do we do it?
Let me think long and hard about this social media update I’m about to post. Regardless of the tumultuous morning I’ve had, let me put it out there for everyone to see that my life is perfect and that everything’s going just fine.
We just finished up a Christmas season during which my family received tons of Christmas cards, complete with perfect family pictures. I loved each and every one of them, but you know what I loved more than those pictures, the accompanying letters that told of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past year.
You see, I’m doing my best to stop pretending. I’m not going to waste any more time and money on painting fairways. If the grass is dead, so be it, let the world know, maybe it’ll make someone else feel better that they’re not the only one with dead grass.
I’ve become a big Jackson Browne fan over the years and of all the music he’s written which I love and admire, his song “The Pretender” is among my favorites. The final words of the song are haunting:
Though true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender
We don’t have to surrender, to give in to what we think everyone else wants to see. We don’t have to give in to save face and put on a front so everyone thinks our life is perfect.
Are you tired of painting fairways? Are you tired of pretending? Maybe you don’t need a resolution, no idle promises to make and break. Maybe you just need to stop pretending.
So, go ahead, let ‘em see your dead grass. You just might be the inspiration that someone else needs to stop painting their fairways.