The past is a distant memory. The sins we've committed, the errors we've made, the acts of outright betrayal--they won't linger forever, they won't always pin us to the floor.
This is a hard lesson for some of us to learn.
Redemption comes in many forms. Sometimes, it's a simple act of forgiveness from one of our kids. Other times, it's when a spouse decides that the past can remain firmly in the past as he or she chooses to look only to the future.
In watching the astounding rebound and redemption of Tiger Woods this past weekend, it's obvious the famous pro golfer is on a path to return to his former glory. He may not win another major golf tournament this summer, and maybe this Masters win is a major fluke, but I'm guessing--after watching his precision on the golf course--that this is someone who isn't interested in letting his past dictate where he can go from here on out.
Every shot, the ball spinning into an exact spot on the green.
A disciplined approach, measured out and finely attuned.
Tiger Woods won the Masters because he played like someone who was living in a place of peaceful redemption, the past now a distantly dissipating cloud.
I saw this in an interview he gave. It's on the PGA website. He talks mostly about his kids, and how his main "achievement" was in having them watch their dad play. There's a sense that the last 15 years are not going to define Tiger Woods anymore--the indiscretions, the diversions, the tabloid photos splashed everywhere in the grocery store line.
Do you ever feel like you are defined by your past?
I know a little about that.
I've never won a round of golf in my life. I was a success story in the corporate world, though. I led a team of writers and designers. By 30, I was already on the fast track to receive major annual bonuses, enjoy a competitive salary, and garner serious workplace catchet. It all came tumbling down in 2001, one week after September 11.
For a few weeks, I grumbled. I complained. I wallowed.
Somehow, the stigma of being jettisoned from the corporate world didn't come to define me. I wasn't another has-been of a massive consumer electronics giant, an empty shell left on the side of the road by corporate overlords. It could have been the case. Yet, it was my wife who said seven simple words to me that I'll never forget.
"You always wanted to be a writer," she said.
Redemption is like that.
It takes an act of purity.
My wife could have told me to start knocking on doors looking for a real job. Instead, she didn't hold my disastrous corporate career over me like a gauntlet. It took six months to land my first writing assignment. 17 years later, I'm still here.
And so is Tiger. I'm no golfer, but I certainly understand what it's like to live in purgatory for long periods of time, wondering what will happen next.
I've felt locked down, tied up, and immobile before.
The past doesn't have to define you anymore.
The dark cloud of mistakes can fade.
Redemption is waiting.
All you have to do is set down your anger and bitterness, set aside your doubts and defensiveness, and pick up a new story and a new future.