Viewing our past through the eyes of maturity can reveal insights that our younger selves could not see. Lessons that eluded us become apparent. Encounters that once felt like misfortunes now become understood as valued parts of who we are. We realize what we’ve learned and what we have to teach. And we’re encouraged to chart a future that is rich with purpose.
In A Round of Golf with My Father, William Damon introduces us to the “life review.” This is a process of looking with clarity and curiosity at the paths we’ve traveled, examining our pasts in a frank yet positive manner, and using what we’ve learned to write purposeful next chapters for our lives.
For Damon, that process began by uncovering the mysterious life of his father, whom he never met and never gave much thought to. What he discovered surprised him so greatly that he was moved to reassess the events of his own life, including the choices he made, the relationships he forged, and the career he pursued.
Early in his life, Damon was led to believe that his father had been killed in World War II. But the man survived and went on to live a second life abroad. He married a French ballerina, started a new family, and forged a significant Foreign Service career. He also was an excellent golfer, a bittersweet revelation for Damon, who wishes that his father had been around to teach him the game.
We follow Damon as he struggles to make sense of his father’s contradictions and how his father, even though living a world apart, influenced Damon’s own development in crucial ways. In his life review, Damon uses what he learned about his father to enhance his own newly emerging self-knowledge.
Readers of this book may come away inspired to conduct informal life reviews for themselves. By uncovering and assembling the often overlooked puzzle pieces of their pasts, readers can seek present-day contentment and look with growing optimism to the years ahead.