You know how it is when you get a certain song or musical refrain on your mind. Like a broken record it keeps playing over and over again. For me, it is the same with certain words or phrases that stick in my mind to the degree that they eventually haunt me.
Over the course of the past week for instance, the word "mulligan" has been strangely indelible in my mind and it keeps surfacing as if containing subliminal meaning. The mulligan I'm talking about here is not the Irish sir name "Mulligan", rather it is the game of golf version of the word "mulligan". A mulligan in a friendly game of golf is awarded to a player who hits a bad shot, or duffs the ball, generally off the tee. By consent of others in the foursome, the player is allowed to take the shot over again without penalty on the scorecard. There are many stories on the origin of the term, dating back to the 1940s, all lacking a definitive explanation. It can be assumed, however, that a duffer by the name of Mulligan was originally involved, either as a taker or provider of forgiveness for a bad shot.
I can trace all this back to a recent email exchange with a young(er) friend of mine who was filling me in on marital problems he was having. He explained that things had been extremely rough for a while, but that he decided to foster a reconciliation with his wife and they were in the process of "working things out" for the benefit of three teenage children.
Without asking about the circumstances and who was at fault, I congratulated him for finding it within himself to turn the other cheek and "do the right thing". We mutually agreed that many couples today give up on marriage too quickly and that it is usually the kids that suffer the most. I was of the opinion that everyone makes mistakes and that it is always in the best interest of the parties involved to agree to forgive and forget and to give their relationship a second chance. Kind of like a marital mulligan, I thought...An opportunity to take another shot at marriage and this time to stay out of the rough.
I hope that by posting this item now I can finally get mulligans off my mind. As I conclude the text, however, I cannot help but think of how much better the world would be if we were all prepared to offer more mulligans in our relationships, marital or otherwise.
There is no question that differences substantially add to our handicap. We also make our share of mistakes and ill-advised decisions that cause us to stray off the fairway, but that's not to say that we should be exempt from a "second shot" or two as we play out this game of life.
Sometimes too, it is best not to keep score at all. Mulligans are just between golfing partners -- or husbands and wives.
And, oh yes...That subliminal meaning I was talking about earlier: "To err is human, to forgive is devine." I finally got it!