One Last Thing…New Blog to Follow

For some inexplicable reason, I had decided to start blogging with WordPress using the name Michael instead of Mike. Call it a phase, call it a way to maybe look more mature or distinguished, I don’t know. The one problem was this: Almost nobody refers to me as Michael anymore. I’ve been Mike since 5th grade, and really the only people to call me Michael are two ex-girlfriends and a couple relatives. Mike feels more authentic, and that’s why I’ve decided to change the URL of this blog; everything after this post will now be posted at mikeguillenblog.wordpress.com. 

The good news: I’ve already imported all my previous posts onto the new blog.

The bad news: So far, I’ve only been able to transfer the posts, not the followers.

So, if you’d all be so kind, please follow the new blog, which will have the same material, just under a (slightly) different name. New material will be coming soon.

 

Thanks again!

Mike Guillen

More Updates

As I’m sure most people have noticed, there hasn’t been a consistent theme to my posts. Some of them have been anecdotes about various aspects of my life, others have been more about my observations regarding the world today (mostly the bad stuff). Considering the feedback I’ve received, the observations have received the most praise, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on. As time goes by and my material builds, I’ll add other subjects that I’m passionate about. A couple more updates:

I have a new, and most likely permanent, Twitter account: MikeGuillen_1

I can also be reached via email: MikeGuillen_@outlook.com

If you have any suggestions about topics you’d like me to write about, or feedback for how I can improve, feel free to contact me. 

Finally, thank you for following this blog; I look forward to providing material that is fun and compelling, and having an audience will help me provide that.

 

The Exception to the Rule

Over the last three months, there has been a lot of worry and angst amongst my friends and relatives, with the exception of two people. Instead of addressing each individual, it’s probably more productive if I write a post covering all the basic concerns, and use it as a teaching tool for those outside my personal and social circle to learn from. Of the basic concerns, the three biggest ones are:
1. Wasting my abilities chasing my dream(s) without “something to fall back on”.
2. Accusations that I don’t have some sort of detailed plan.
3. Having to do things the hard way.
Before I go into further detail, I want to make something clear: in no way do I harbor any animosity towards anyone who has tried to help or give advice. The one common theme amongst those who I’m close to is that they are all good people, and have the best intentions. However, as the proverb says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
1. Wasting my abilities chasing my dream(s) without “something to fall back on”.
This one is probably the least important premise, so we’ll get this one out of the way. The phrase “something to fall back on” is something I have heard since I was a kid, especially while I played league basketball. Even amongst parents or relatives. One example is when NBA veteran Mike Bibby left the University of Arizona early to pursue his professional basketball career. Professional athletes in general are often criticized for taken guaranteed money over finishing an education. The common theme of complaints is: “What happens if you get injured or it doesn’t work out? Don’t you want to have something to fall back on?” While this seems like a fairly rational argument, it’s littered with counter examples. Let’s get back to our Bibby example: say he takes an NBA contract with guaranteed money, and on the first day of practice, suffers a career-ending injury. Are you telling me that he still doesn’t have options? Last time I checked, colleges don’t discriminate against age, gender, or if you need handicap accessible parking. And that’s the biggest issue with safety nets: In general, people fail to see the various angles of a situation, both good AND bad. An opposite example is college education itself. It’s generally thought that having a college degree gives you a leg up over the competition over those who don’t have one. Do you see the flaw in this? There’s no mention of what can happen if your ONLY competition is those who possess a college degree. How does this pertain to me? I became a professional golfer in 2006, and had a lot of initial setbacks (the biggest one can be read in my last blog entry). Eight years later, I’m putting in the work to give my dream another shot. Those around me are worried about what will happen if things don’t work out; I’m not worried at all. Which brings us to the next topic.
2. Accusations that I don’t have some sort of detailed plan.
Mike Tyson illustrated it best when he said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Think about this for a moment: When have you had a plan where things worked out EXACTLY the way you had planned? If you answered anything other than, “maybe once or twice,” you either didn’t think hard enough, or you’re delusional. And that’s not to say it’s a bad thing. The universe is too big to care if our plans go according to plan. Now ponder this: How many times have to acted on a plan, it didn’t go as planned, but something wonderful came out of it? I’m willing to wager my lifetime earnings that that scenario happens far more often. A good example from my own experience is with a friend of mine in Flagstaff. When I met her, she was vehemently against an intimate relationship; her plan was to do her own thing. Then she met a guy. Then she realized that she liked this guy. Now she’s in love with the guy. Was it planned? No. Do I know if my plans are going to work out? No. All I, or anyone else for that matter, can do is take a step in a direction and see where it takes us.
3. Having to do things the hard way.
If you ever get a chance, I encourage everyone to read the book The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo. I won’t go into too much detail, but the major theme is how taking your own path in life can be difficult, but can also open your eyes to some incredible situations. In America, compared to other countries, we have it pretty damn good. A path has been blazed for us, and anyone can walk it. Is it easy? Yes, it can be. Does it come with a price of its own? Yes, and your desire to tote that line says a great deal of your tolerance to pay that price. If you’re willing to choke down the bullshit that comes with being a cog in the machine, you can live well in this country. There are others that gave this line the middle finger, and sought out their own way of making their life, something they really enjoy doing. It’s a steep price upfront, takes a lot of work, doesn’t usually have immediate rewards, but if you can persevere, it can make life exponentially more enjoyable. THIS is the path I have chosen to take. Is one better than the other? Of course not. The only difference lies within the values each individual holds. I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again: Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is.
My journey is still in its infancy, and I have no idea where it will lead. I will continue to do the best I can in every situation, consequences be damned. I leave you with the second half of the proverb quoted above:
“The road to heaven is paved with good actions.”

Another Good Walk Spoiled

Stepping out on the first tee, getting to feel all the butterflies, the nervousness, and the

excitement was something I always enjoyed, even looked forward to. Then at last came my

favorite part. “On the tee, from Tucson, Arizona: Mike Guillen.” Not much of a gallery, mostly

girlfriends and friends of my playing partners, and my caddie, Shawn. Although there was no

applause after my name was announced, after what I had fought back from just six months

earlier, simply being there felt like receiving a standing ovation.

 

This story begins on December 16, 2007. It was an extremely cold morning, by Tucson

standards, as we loaded up the car and headed out to Scottsdale, Arizona. My (now-ex) girlfriend

was always my biggest supporter, and joined me for any tournament she could. For the

past three years, golf was my life, and after all the work and sacrifice, it was time to put my skill

to the test. Sure, I had played a few tournaments as a professional before, but not with money at

stake. A chance to actually receive a check for my performance on the course had always been a dream.

 

At around 7:30 am, as we pulled up to the golf course, it was evident this was going to be

a rather long day. Frost clung to nearly every blade of grass as far as the eye could see. Tee

times were pushed back ninety minutes, which gave us ample time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast

at a nearby restaurant. On our trip back, we saw the sheet of frost had gently melted away,

leaving us with a vibrant green landscape. One of the first obstacles I encountered was the lack

of a driving range that day. Not one to dwell on the issue, I decided to sharpen up my short

game before I made my way to the first tee. After introducing myself to my playing partners, it

was time to get to business. “Next on the tee, from Tucson, Arizona: Mike Guillen.”

 

I got off to a fairly rocky start, missing two short putts on the first two holes. Undeterred,

I stepped up to the third hole determined to turn things around. “Just rip it hard down the right-

hand side,” I told myself, and as I made my downswing, something was different. My thoughts

immediately switched to the fact that I had been overweight for much of my adult life. I

suddenly recalled that the soreness in my knee over the previous few weeks had been suspicious, but nothing to worry about. Finally, I made damn sure that I fell straight back in order to avoid further injury, for my right leg was no longer working in unison. It had, in fact, been blown

out at the knee. As I lay there like a helpless geriatric, everyone else in my group rushed over to see what exactly happened. Their attention was focused on where my ball was headed, and when they didn’t see a small white sphere flying through the air, they turned to see me flat on my back, screaming bloody murder. Trying to keep the mood light, although I was in excruciating

pain, I asked one of the gentlemen watching over me, “Where did the ball go?” He replied, trying hard not to laugh, “Still sitting on the tee, Bud.”

 

Fortunately, the golf course was eight blocks from a hospital and the tee box was only

about 50 feet from a road. Within minutes, a crew of four E.M.T.s was on the scene to assess the situation. Thankfully, there were four of them, because it took every one of them to get my

portly, 305 pound body on the stretcher and into the ambulance. A few minutes later, I was

whisked into the emergency room, where a doctor gave me an ultimatum: wait 45 minutes for

pain killers before they attempt to pop my knee back into place, or suck it up and do it right now.

Without hesitation, I opted for option B, and in one fell swoop, and a very loud pain-filled

scream, they twisted my kneecap back into place. “Go ahead,” one of the doctor’s said, “it’s all

done, you can bend your knee again.” I tried all I could, and nothing budged. I was instructed to

see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as I could. Being that it was a Sunday and these folks had better things to do, like watch football, I nodded and smiled,  and thirty minutes later I was headed back to the golf course. I waited patiently at the clubhouse for my group to finish, so I could explain what happened and show that I was okay. I shook hands with everyone, went to the pharmacy to pick up my pain-killers, and spent the entire drive home pondering what my near future had in store for me.

 

The next morning, I made an appointment to see an orthopaedic surgeon. Luckily, they were able to pencil me in that afternoon. My concern had grown considerably because I was still unable to move my right leg. After checking in and meeting with Dr. Q, I was hopeful that my concerns were no big deal.  In the x-ray room, I struggled with giving the nurse a particular angle she desired, known as, “a sunrise.” After five minutes of painful manipulation, the desired angle is received. When the Dr. returned, he pulled up the screen with the resulting x-rays, and it was clear that everything was not fine. The x-ray showed that my knee cap was stuck against the right side of my femur. It was one of those feelings where the image was speaking to me, saying, “Yeah, you’re screwed.” The only option was to operate, both to replace my knee cap and to ensure that all the tendons and ligaments had not been damaged either. Initial diagnosis for recovery: three months minimum, assuming that no other damage was done. It was more painful emotionally, realizing that my career was in jeopardy in its infancy.

 

My surgery was scheduled for the 19th, three days after the accident. Surgery went well, with the exception of getting my arms bruised from trying to insert the IV. (I later discovered that the Dr commented that I was very guarded. I was initially offended, which is probably a strong indication of someone who is guarded. Well played, sir.) The doctor was also kind enough to visit me that evening in recovery. “Other than losing a sliver of cartilage, everything is okay,” he said calmly. “Just rest for the next two weeks, then you will begin physical therapy.” Then the biggest question I had arose: “After therapy, will I still be able to pursue my golf career?”

 

“If you can manage to lose weight, then absolutely.”

 

It was a huge relief to hear that. He suggested gastric bypass as an option, which sounded more like a sales pitch than an optimal plan to health. My hospital roommate that night had that exact operation. He spent most of the night walking through the halls in regular intervals, which is common for gastric bypass patients. No, surgery was not the answer for me. This fat boy was going to slim down the old-fashioned way: with knowledge and hard work.

 

Recovering from surgery gave me a ton of free time, and I spent it the way any other nerd with stitches would: reading books on nutrition. My savior through this endeavor was the book, “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy,” a book compiled with research done at Harvard Medical School, detailing facts on what certain foods do to one’s body. By the time physical therapy started, I was armed with the tools that would serve me well during my nine weeks of rebuilding what had been damaged.

 

My second savior was my physical therapist, Angie. She was a kind soul, but had no problem pushing me to my limits. She knew I was determined to get my career back on track, and her guidance was phenomenal. By March 7th, the entire physical therapy office had noticed the incredible transformation from physical ruin to athletic prowess. After my final stretch and massage, which were always the highlight of my sessions, I gave her a big hug.

 

There was still one obstacle to overcome: the doctor’s clearance. The first thing I did was hop on the scale: 268. When the doctor came into the room, his expression was priceless. “You have been the ideal patient; I cannot ask more from someone. You’re free to go back to work.” There was still plenty of work to do, and I didn’t waste a single minute of it. Three months later, and it was time to make my comeback. This time, at a much trimmer 245 lbs.

I would love to say that this comeback has a fairy tale ending, but unfortunately life doesn’t always work that way. I finished dead last in my next two tournaments, which have also been my last two tournaments. Overcoming adversity is a part of life, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. Although my golf career has been, up to this point, a failure, in that window of time I was able to rise to the occasion, overcome my obesity, and recover from my physical ailment. Despite the hardship, the accident was truly a blessing in disguise.

Updates to Blog

For those already following this blog, thank you. A couple updates to it are:

My new Twitter page, @michaelguillen_. Once I have established some followers there, there will be plenty of witty and fun quotes.

Also, I have finally been able to get the share buttons on my blog to show up. So, whatever your social networking preferences are, you’ll be able to share my posts much easier. Again, I thank you for following this blog.

Why Opinions are Meaningless Without Substance

“If you ever find yourself in complete agreement with the public, especially when “public” includes people you wanted to murder in the last election, then your position is not only wrong, it’s not even yours. You have been trained to have this thought, so the money is in understanding why.”
-The Last Psychiatrist

If you spend a lot of your time around people, you’re bound to come across someone saying the following:

“I have a right to my opinion.”

It’s a common defense amongst people who argue, a last-ditch effort to defend one’s position on a particular topic. While the statement, “I have a right to my opinion,” has the element of truth in theory, there are two key flaws:

1. Opinions are subject to analyzation  and evaluation.

2. Without substance, opinions are worthless.

If you Google “opinion definition”, the definition given at the top of the page is, “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge (bolding is mine). The bold print illustrates something that most people fail to realize; having an opinion does not automatically mean it is based on objectivity. Many times, especially in the media, opinions are dressed up to look like facts, when they are bullshit.

The problem is not that people have opinions; we are free individuals and can do whatever we want. The problem is that opinions, when not analyzed and thought through, can be dangerous to society and the environment. How so? Look throughout history, and you’ll see that many of the world’s problems (genocide, gang violence, political struggles) stem from opinions without any objectivity.

What is the fundamental question to ask? Why?

Why? Why is the best question to ask when you want to gain an understanding of someone else’s thought processes. It’s the basic question of philosophy, and the basis of how society began.

As you may have noticed, I have presented several premises that could be deemed as “opinions”. If there is something in my reasoning that looks unsound, I’d love to receive feedback, and am capable of defending my positions, or opening up to other considerations.

This is how true objectivity can be obtained.

 

Update to “Failure…” Post

After posting the original blog concerning failure and how dangerous it can be for us, I recalled another instance where this habit can be more toxic. Another relative of mine, thirteen years my junior, attended the same middle school as I did.  Upon the completion of his 8th grade school year, he was going to fail two courses, requiring him to attend and pass summer school, or else be held back from high school. This same predicament also happened to two of my closest friends in middle school, thirteen years before. Here’s the difference over a decade can make: My cousin was able to participate in the promotion ceremony; my friends were required to stay home on the last day of school. This is not a question of fair or unfair; that argument is irrelevant. The point is that today’s kids, from what I have seen, are coddled and protected from reality. It’s all about letting kids feel good about themselves, despite the fact that they didn’t complete the work they were being rewarded for completing.  Many people see this as improving one’s self-esteem; that’s bullshit.  I could dedicate a 5,000 word post as to why, but I’ll give the executive summary instead: Self-esteem is meaningless without substance. And that’s what we’re teaching people these days, whether it be a participation trophy, a high school diploma, or a petty middle school promotion ceremony.