While I was in high school, a friend of mine and I would drive to a patch of woods in our hometown the size of a city block at dusk. We’d write our name and the date on golf balls that emerged from our pockets, tee up said golf balls in an open field beside the woods, swing the driver back, swing through, and head into the woods with headlamps on head in search of what we had just ridded ourselves of.
This happened in the summer. And the summers of my home state of Michigan may let up on sunlight after a certain point, but the humidity lays stagnant and punctuated in the evening air.
We’d wade through fallen trees and fallen leaves from said trees and thick thickets of still upright trees and we’d march through marshy soil. All while being surrounded by mosquitos and the sound of cicadas and any number of other odd, wonderful Michigan bug life.
Occasionally we’d stumble by temporary encampments of the local homeless. They always appeared unoccupied but the slight rustling that we both knew came from neither of our movements made us think the one who did occupy was not too far off.
I’m not sure if we ever found one of the golfballs we hit. The combination of dense, deciduous forest and muddy, leafy ground made their hiding from us that much more successful.
It’s funny how the initial pursuit of retrieval leads to the ultimate contentment with search. I don’t know how many times I’ve truly found what it was I’m pursuing. Each time I arrive, that thing, whatever it was, grows and evolves and moves beyond what was initially sought. But in the rummaging and the searching is the memory made. Of time in the woods. Of meaning manifesting. To not find the golf ball is to continue to operate in the mystery of knowing it’s out there, somewhere, but not gripped. Elusive. Which is perhaps the recipe for all good things.
Certainly the recipe for wonder.