Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

Tiger Woods and the unpredictability of life

The world used to be more predictable. Especially on Sunday afternoons. The fall of 2006, when my daughter Izzy was only a newborn, we spent Sunday afternoons on the couch in our basement watching sports. She was too small to sit up on her own, so I tucked her into the corner cushions of the couch. She was snug, swaddled tight among the big pillows. She was too young to talk, but we still discussed the games. It was more of a one-way conversation.

During the fall of her first year, we watched the Atlanta Falcons play football. That was when Michael Vick was the quarterback. At least once every game Vick made a play that was so unbelievable I picked Izzy up from the couch and danced around the room.

“Can you believe that?! Did you see that?!” I shouted at my 5 month old.

She always smiled back.

It was a Sunday tradition I counted on. After, the Falcons game we watched the last few holes of that week’s professional golf tournament. At the time, Tiger Woods was the number one player in the world. No one could touch him. Each week we watched him win another tournament. I told Izzy, “You see that guy. He is the best golfer in the world.” She smiled back.

Those were simpler days.

In the spring of 2007 it was discovered that Michael Vick was involved in an extensive dog fighting operation. He later spent two years in prison. Sunday afternoons were not the same after that. We didn’t watch the Falcons for a year. But at least I still had Tiger Woods.

That is, until late fall of 2009, when Woods life began to unravel. First he lost his wife. Then he lost his golf game. He has not won a tournament since. Just recently he missed the cut at a major golf tournament ending his season early. That never happened to the old Tiger Woods.

I know I should be happy for all the other golfers who can now win tournaments because Tiger isn’t monopolizing the trophies. For some reason, though, I prefer predictability: two world-class athletes raising their hands victoriously as my newborn smiles back at me from the folds of the sofa.

Maybe those Sunday afternoons gave me a break from life’s unpredictability. Maybe they helped me forget that I can never know what Monday will bring. Maybe they made the world look simpler.

But (big but) the world is not simple. Izzy is now a beautiful 5-year-old. She still smiles at me—with the extra joy that comes with comprehension—but not always. It is a little harder to comfort her than it was when she was younger and just needed a new diaper or a bottle of milk. Soon she will be a young woman facing the complexity of life for herself.

What do I tell her? S*** happens? Uncle Camus says you will never understand the world so just keep your head up and make the best of it? What do I do? Do I just show her an over-simplified religious film where all the plot-points are resolved at the end? What do you think?

Maybe, when she is old enough, I am can to use the words of the Teacher in the book of Ecclesiastes:

In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.


The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Or maybe I will just tell her to buy . . .


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