Being around old friends can be centering.

This past weekend I ventured to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., for a golf retreat with old friends. Politics is not part of the conversation, replaced by laughing, drinking and lots of golf.

One realizes that leaving behind the real world every once in a while is a good thing. Out on the golf course, playing $5 skins and $5 closest to the pin adds to friendly competition and the arguments over what are fair handicaps for our team version of “USA” versus “Europe” Cup team matches don’t leave everyone fretting over whether the ozone layer will be protecting future generations.

Playing golf and drinking; a couple of simple pleasures interrupted only by more drinking with poker and cornhole at night and amazing feasts prepared in between.

Getting up early for work is difficult, but up at 4 a.m. to catch the 10:45 a.m. ferry for a 1 p.m. tee time is doable with a coffee on the go. The idea of old friends and golf puts things in perspective; the world can be a dour place, but when you pause to reset, it helps.

Last week, writing about white male privilege, I asked that comments not go down a rat hole; for the most part, the request was respected. One reader couldn’t help himself, making crude references, while another wanted to respond respectfully, but worried others would judge him sexist or misogynist because of his honest beliefs.

Perhaps we all might benefit from taking a break; with elections only a few weeks away, and many calling this the most important midterm election of our time, some disagree.

Pushing the pause button for a long weekend helped me.

Getting made fun of, in the way decades-old friends do it, is centering and honors one’s core.

The weekend started with a 15-minute late start from home; making up 11 of those minutes on the road before disaster knocked. What a treat it had been to have the host invite one of my 30-ish-year-old sons to join the old men. A plan was made to meet at his new house less than a mile off the highway near Boston. He texted me the address.

It would be a quick loading of the car; he’d have cups of takeout coffee ready, and off towards Cape Cod we’d head. While putting the info into my GPS, the address came up and, while driving, the “go” button pushed.

An hour later, a little earlier than expected, arriving to the wrong place, in the wrong town, I was dumbfounded. I was in Malden, not Medford. A quick relocation on the GPS gave good news and bad news; the good news: only 4.6 miles away and in the right direction. The bad news: 38 minutes because it was rush hour. Turning the car and assessing the damage, I called our host, who was meeting everyone at the parking area, about 7 miles from the ferry, at 9:45 a.m. for the 10:45 boat. After picking up my son, the new ETA was 10:17 a.m., leaving little room for error. The host agreed to wait as long as possible, and we tried to make up time.

No luck; we couldn’t get into the commuter lane, watching HOV cars pass while we crept through Boston. Rain pelted and we made alternative plans for the shuttle bus and the next boat. We might have to meet the other 10 golfers on the other side. As we barreled down the final stretches, our host agreed to continue to wait; something appreciated when you have old friends who know and understand you are who you are and will laugh about it later (especially when they don’t miss the boat), recalling the golf trip a few winters earlier when you went to the wrong airport in Phoenix, missing your flight home and most of the Celtics game you had tickets to that night.

All is forgiven and forgotten until you break your toe tripping over a chair on the outside deck the first night while making your way back inside the house after a cornhole match. Duct taping the baby toe to its neighbor would ease the pain and allow for 36 holes of weekend golf; hobbling the way to more memory-making.

Good friends honor you and love you as you are; we are fallible creatures, and when you take politics out of discussions, we become more human and nicer to each other.

Someone once said; “a bad round of golf is better than a good day at work.”

Add old friends into the mix to get a recipe for success.


“To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.”

— Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)