Second Acts are Everywhere in America – Hello, Tigers!

 (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

New Orleans       I’m not a fan of golf.  Very little about the game has every appealed to me, partially for class reasons.  As a kid, every blue moon we would make a couple of bucks retrieving balls in the watery ponds at the City Park course for a quarter a ball.  I once caddied for my uncle in Duncan, Oklahoma, on the hot, barren course there when I worked one summer in Velma as a roustabout after graduating from high school.  It was sport without any appeal and a lot of problems in my mind, not the least of which was that watching it was boring.

But, I’ll admit to rooting for Tiger Woods and his comeback for all of the same reasons, and was incredulous when I first saw the headline scroll across my phone that he had won the Masters, the biggest, whitest, richest professional tournament in the world.  It was too early in the day. This was probably fake news, clickbait.  The tournament couldn’t be over.  I had forgotten reading that there was an early start because of potential weather problems in Georgia.  I’ve now read every article about his victory in three or four papers this morning.  I couldn’t care less what it means for the game of golf or the oft repeated headline that this was a “victory for the ages.”  I like it because it puts another exclamation point on the fact that second acts are everywhere in America.

The author F. Scott Fitzgerald is famously quoted as saying “there are no second acts in America.”  Fitzgerald scholars’ wince that this line is a misreading of Fitzgerald and a flagrant misquote arguing that the phrase is out of context because the rest of his line went on to establish that in fact there were second acts.  Second, third, serial acts are hallmarks of American life with boundless examples in almost every field of endeavor including business, politics, show business, and on and on.  Think about serial bankruptcies and failed startups that still became successes.  Think about inventors who failed repeatedly.  Think about politicians who lost races but kept coming back to the voters until they won.  Think about actors, singers, and artists, who bombed terribly, and kept coming back.

Hey, even think about Tiger Woods who had a meteoric career from the age of 21 to 33 in golf with unparalleled victories, and then a front page, seemingly forever meltdown that included sex and drugs, capped off by even more failure as his back and body collapsed frequently, until this time he broke through, finally winning a tournament last season and contending, and then winning the Masters for the fifth time

The real story is not that there are no second acts.  There are millions.  The real story of America is never quitting, being willing to fail, dusting yourself off and getting back upon the horse, never say die, there’s always a next time.  That’s America, and for a change Tiger Woods displayed that the best of America is not natural talent or amazing gifts, but true grit.  Something we can all display every day.

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Doha to Delhi Time Warp

P1010002Delhi There’s no way around it – moving half-way across the world still is a schlep, as they say, even at these prices. I climbed onto Qatar Airlines, heavily promoted as a 5 star carrier, in Dulles (DC) a little before midnight on Monday night and stepped off the plane in Delhi at 3 AM on Wednesday morning. Times flies! Tempus fugit, momento mori!

We landed at Doha in Qatar around 630 PM in the fading light between the sea and the desert. We could see the skyscrapers in the near distance from the airport, seemingly close enough to touch, rising out of the beige and browns all around. The airport seemed small, but was properly appropriate for this small country.

It did not take that long to puzzled it together though. There were two food courts. One was seemingly for tourists of sorts with a Cafe Beanery and a TCBY all of which were mainly deserted. On the other end of the airport though was a straightforward cafeteria filled to the brim. I got a cup of coffee and had a seat while trying to figure it out. At one end near me was a young Indian man sitting at a small table. Gradually, a line formed around him as he checked passports, stamped boarding passes, and handed out slips of paper. It all seemed very official. Finally, I figured it out. This was a Qatar Airlines service on the migrant streams of workers in and out of the Middle East and the Gulf countries. The lines of people, including quizzical tourists caught up in the queue were being given a voucher for a free meal of soda, rice, roll, and chicken swimming in sauce if they had a 5-hour layover between flights. All of this allowed the airport to be all things to all people, but take care of business all the same, and business was booming, filling up almost every seat back to India with the workers and the rest of us trying to save a couple of hundred on the flight.

The airport in Delhi is becoming a marvel, which is only to say that it is becoming like most of the rest of the airports in the world. Coming every 6 months, it is easy to chart the differences. First, customs became quicker when they moved out of the old room into a vast hall with fancy booths and smooth lines. Then the luggage area started identifying the flights being unloaded, another breakthrough. Now there is marble everywhere and I have to go outside before smelling the acrid smoke of the city, where the prepaid taxi line is still the wild west. Driving into the city, we passed things that looked for all of the world like toll booths next to the airport…what will await next?

The world kept moving as it does. Tiger’s team was OK with him. Duke, not surprisingly, won another NCAA title. The Yankees and the Sox went back and forth. Comcast won a disturbing round against net neutrality, auguring poorly for the FCC’s course in the future to broaden access. Maoist Naxalites killed 77 Indian soldiers in an ambush in the forested areas. A Latino was named to head the Los Angeles diocese. While meanwhile all of us migrant workers moved with the stream, back and forth, in the time warp of work for wages wherever it can be found.

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