Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Art of Spin or Things That Sound Impressive Unless You Know Better

Recently my life, and more importantly, my golf has been hampered by another back episode. For those who don’t know me, that’s the few weeks each year I claim bad back pain in order to lay around on the couch for a while and catch up on YouTube, sleep, and the like. I also count it as family time since the kids are usually within earshot.

But now and then I manage to make it off the couch for a quick round of golf, hopped up on pain meds and adrenalin. I think the movement actually helps a little bit, since the best thing for a bad back, generally speaking, is movement. Unfortunately, a recent round wasn’t all that quick. In fact, it was positively brutal.

Nonetheless, here’s the recap of the shot of the day for me: I was in the greenside bunker on the 407-yard par 4 16th from my tee shot.

Impressive, eh?

In fact, I didn’t see where the ball had finished, and my group was looking everywhere for it—everywhere except the bunker, that is, because no one ever makes it into the greenside bunker on 16 from the tee.

But finally, someone on the 16th green pointed out my ball in the greenside bunker.

We were all amazed. I have played the same course for several years and I don’t recall ever seeing anyone in the greenside bunker on 16 off the tee shot.

Still impressed? You should be …

Except for one thing … or as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story.”

I was, in fact, in the greenside bunker on the 407-yard 16th hole from the tee.

But it was, in fact, from the 17th tee.

It was a bad shot which was the result of casting, (or that horrible “from the top” swing that I have perfected but never learned to play), combined with a severe hook (a vicious curve ball from right to left), combined with what must have been a few ricochets off some trees to resulted in about a hundred yards of total distance (fifty towards the green and fifty towards the left).

It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime shot. At least I hope it was.

And now you know the rest of the story which greatly changes the meaning of the narrative.

There was something untold that you needed to know to draw a proper conclusion about whether to be impressed or not.

And here’s the moral: When someone starts spouting off, we always need to ask, “What aren’t you telling me?”

I take this mindset into counseling. I listen for the unspoken. I often ask, “What else do I need to know?” Or “If the other person was here, what would they tell me?”

I take this mindset into reading, particularly in the often highly charged blogosphere. I want to know what has been left out of a story that would change the way it sounds.

It reminds me of an instance a while back when I saw a certain internet busybody lambasting a certain fundamentalist for preaching at a certain venue. What he failed to include was that the man had been invited there precisely to give a fundamentalist response. In other words, he had been invited to be a contrarian.

For those who had not yet learned that this source was not always trustworthy, this seemed an egregious situation. For those who knew a little bit, it was quite easy to see through.

I would encourage us all to read and listen with discernment.

Remember, being in the greenside bunker on 16 from the tee is really impressive, until you find out that it was the 17th tee.

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