I panicked when I reached into my bag for my precious Star SL and realized I didn’t have it. We had been together for quite awhile, and our relationship, though rocky at the onset, had strengthened over time and she became the most trustworthy disc in my bag. I’m betting anyone reading this has had a similar love affair at one time or another. You find yourself reaching for the same disc almost every time a challenge presents itself, because humans, by default, stick with what they know. My SL was a reliable driver, put a slight anheiser on her and she would smile and just hold a line as long as you needed her to do so. If I needed to skip an upshot toward the chains, she would take off, scan the terrain, and bounce herself up at just the right moment to give me an easy putt to finish out the hole. It’s like we had this whole “Vulcan mind-meld” kind of synchronization. You can’t fake that. Oh sure, there were other discs. I had my share of brief flings with glossy newcomers with names like Katana and Valkyrie, but afterwards, I always felt so…dirty. Cheap and easy plastic whores were a distraction, but in my heart, I knew which disc loved me back.
Alluring, yes, but heartbreak and despair await
That day, my disc golf buds and I were throwing a sort of practice round. Two drives off the tee, it gives you a chance to try out different approaches to the same hole. For whatever reason, (and, truthfully, there are probably oh, say, 420 reasons) I forgot I had thrown my SL, and it wasn’t until we had gone to play the back nine that I remembered. I retraced my steps as best I could, but I never found her. Someone else surely did. Another player either found her before I went back, or after. I was seriously tweaked by this development. A relative newcomer to the game, I didn’t have many discs in my bag that I had already dialed in. I actually placed a bounty. But I never saw her again. Then a funny thing happened. I was complaining to my friend about it, and he remarked, “well, didn’t you find that disc to begin with?” Man, the earth shook, the angels wept. I experienced what drunks call ” a moment of clarity.” Yes. I had found her. She was laying there, in the weeds, looking battered and scratched but essentially intact. There was no one else playing that course at the time, so I placed her in my bag, and finished out the game. I had almost a year with her.
I’ve thrown plenty of 16 dollar discs into the lake, or deep into wooded thickets that would make a platoon of Viet Cong change course. I’ve spent more than a few hours searching, lifting up fallen logs, scattering leaves, reaching into dark recesses that could have, at any time, brought me face to face with a pissed off pit viper or a rabid raccoon. (Isn’t that a Beatle’s song? The rabid raccoon, checked into his room…) Sometimes I came away with my disc, (or at least some other disc) but many times, I sighed, gave up, and went on about my day. I emphasized gave up because that’s where I think you have to end this whole sordid business. I’m going to pronounce this as LAW, sent down from on high by the Discs Gods themselves: “The moment you stop searching for your disc is the moment it no longer belongs to you.”
Think about that. At some point, you just say tohellwithit and go do something else…finish the round, mow your lawn, split a pitcher of ale with your mates, whatever.
Once I accepted that, I stopped pining for lost discs. Someone will eventually find them, use them, and likely re-lose them. You know what? The Earth Mother will still rotate, the tides will continue to rise and recede, the sun will shine as brightly as ever. Let go. Breathe. Focus on the discs you still have, and take comfort knowing some other disc golf player may be enjoying one that you lost. Why begrudge him or her?
This post was motivated by two separate but overlapping events. On Saturday, I was playing a local course with Rock Solid and Travis Damn Quillen. We teed off on hole 7 or 8 and as we walked to our discs, another player approached and asked us if we had found his disc, which he described as a white Valkyrie. We informed him that we had not, but then the other player noticed Rock Solid putting a white disc into his bag. (We all carry quite a few white discs, simply because it’s an easy color to see in any season) Rock Solid’s neck hairs bristled a bit, but he did show the guy that it wasn’t his disc. I’m not sure what would have happened if Rock Solid had refused to show him, but I’m pretty sure any move to force him to do so would have resulted in that other golfer being air-lifted out on a gurney. It was beyond rude.
Then I heard a rumor that the PDGA will no longer sanction new courses that don’t include a “lost disc” box of some sort? Please tell me this isn’t true. It may be along the same lines as Obama’s “death panels”. Anyway, I don’t have the strongest Google-fu in the world, but I couldn’t find a source for this.
That said, applying a little etiquette is always a good idea. Goofus sticks the disc in his bag and hides it. If there is a name and number on the disc, Gallant will always place the call. But, the burden of return is always on them. I’m not polluting the planet with exhaust fumes so that I may meet you somewhere. Send me a postpaid envelope, I’ll put it the nearest box. If I see you on the course, I’ll gladly hand it back to you. Absent those two scenarios, I’m pretty much out. Deal with it.