By Wayne Litke
Does frustration bother you? I hope not, but I have to admit that it can bother me. My frustration level definitely builds up when unresolved issues increase in number or magnitude and a simple solution cannot be implemented because it is out of my hands. In such situations a person (even me) can become negative and start to grumble and spread the infection to others. I was approaching such a state last week.
However, an idea came to mind when I saw a lasso golf game that had been set up in our backyard after friends came to visit. The game is simple to play and consists of throwing two balls that are attached to each other by a short piece of rope. The device is called a bola. The idea is to throw the bola at horizontal bars in hopes of snagging one in order to score points. Catching the bar closest to the ground is worth three points and snagging the top bar gives the thrower a single point.
For anyone who lacks imagination, think of the bolla as a pair of testes that are being whirled toward a short ladder in hopes the rotating balls will wrap around one of three rungs. As a child, I had seen such a device in a book that also explained how a bola could be used for hunting. I made several versions of the device using rocks, but could never tie them tight enough that they would remain attached to their tether. As a result, my sister and I both received a couple of goose eggs and a healthy respect for anything heavy that was being whirled around. Unlike my sister, I also received a spanking for my innovation that caused others harm. It was unfortunate that my correction came after my only bola success.
Since rocks and other heavyweight items were too smooth to be securely fastened into a functional bola, I tried using two pieces of metal that had been cut with a cutting torch. They had rough edges which allowed them to be securely fastened together with a rope. My first few throws were semi-successful, so I decided to go into full beta testing. I spotted our German shepherd eating grass and took aim. My throw was perfect, as was the way the spinning trap found his hind quarters. However, the next second brought blood-curdling yelps and strange jumping motions as our pet attempted to shake off his attacker. With a little adult help, the dog’s legs were freed and his yelps ended as mine began. That’s when I learned a pet and siblings have a similar trait – they can both fake an injury in order to get someone in trouble.
Forty-eight years later (with the technicalities of lasso golf firmly entrenched in my mind), I found myself somewhat irritated, a little angry and unable to do a darn thing to rectify my situation. The symptoms were diagnosed as an intermediate case of internal frustration. Then, spying the lasso golf game at home, an idea came to mind. I picked up the balls and decided to host a neighbourhood championship – winner take all. My first toss for the red team went over the top bar and the spectators let out a chuckle – it was a total miss. The blue team answered by snagging the center rung for two points and the fans applauded politely. My next shot caught the two-point rung tying the score and initiating a see-saw battle that would characterize that round and the entire game.
Blue won that first round by one point. Red came back in the second with three points thanks to a hammer shot and went ahead 3-1. However, team blue retaliated with singles in the next two rounds to tie the game. And so it went, back and forth as each team took turns carrying the lead and then losing it. The fans definitely got their money’s worth as the three ends leading up to the end of the game were all tied. In a bold move, the red team used its last bola to make a low and high velocity toss that caught the three-point rung. The inertia of the balls ripped the rungs from the ladder and the apparatus landed on the ground. What ensued is generally referred to as a hullabalo.
The blue team emphatically argued that the toss and subsequent game-winning points did not count since the bola had touched the ground. That incensed the red team since the bola was clearly still attached to the three-point rung as it lay on the ground. Both sides appealed to the judge who then took considerable time conferring with the spectators since a slow-motion replay of the action was not available.
A hush fell on the crowd as the judge walked six paces to center field. He raised his hand, pointed a finger in my direction and said, “Three points – Red.” My teammates yelled and jumped with jubilation, and we cheered as if we had won the Stanley Cup. I could hear the announcer commenting on the action and thought his words seemed a little too grandiose for such a game, but who was I to argue. My childhood mastery of the bola was finally being recognized in a positive way.
It was then that I recalled my mother’s words, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game.” That really struck home as I had done all of that in a single game of lasso golf. More importantly, the frustrations of my day had drained away – they were forgotten in my defeat and overlooked in victory.