Bowling: How to learn, laugh, and live through mistakes

by Jordan Green

Nothing keeps a man humble like sending bowling ball after bowling ball into the gutter while all his friends are watching.

I was reminded of this lesson a couple weeks ago when some friends and I took a trip to the bowling al- ley in Enid for a night of fun. It was our first summer gettogether, and we wanted to knock down some pins. Some had more success with that than others.

Even though I already knew bowling was far from be- ing my forte, I still went with the plan. I hadn’t bowled in about a year, and my skills were bad before my sporting slumber started.

My last name may be “Green,” and I have gone bowling several times in my life. But the words “Bowling” and “Green” only go together when you’re talking about the towns in Kentucky and Ohio.

We got to the bowling alley, paid our dues and slipped on those old bowling shoes. All bowling shoes, no matter the bowling alley, seem to be imbued with the memories of all the bowlers who’ve worn them. It’s almost like you can smell them. We settled on a lane, picked out the bowling balls of our choice, and, before long, got the ball rolling.

My friends immediately knocked down pins. Spare. Spare. Strike. But after my fifth or sixth gutter ball, I was reminded that there’s a reason why I don’t take girls on dates to the bowling alley.

As my luck went right into the gutter every time I sent my bowling ball down the lane, I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I’m not talking about nervous laughter or frustrated laughter, but rather that genuine laughter we sometimes get from our own silly mistakes.

Maybe that’s a lesson we should remember a little more often. I think we take ourselves all too seriously sometimes. We beat ourselves up over our minor mistakes and hone in on the stuff we’re horrible at.

We spend a lot of time and energy being disappointed with ourselves when we ought to spend it having a chuckle. Nobody is great at everything, and I know that bowling is one area where I could use a lot of improvement. I think everyone has something like that. Maybe you’d like to be a better musician, handyman or cook. Whatever trait or talent you’d like to refine, remember to keep a sense of humor throughout the learning process.

It’ll help you learn, and it’ll make life a little easier, too. Science backs this up. Studies show that people who laugh at themselves worry less, have better heart health and even experience better memory. To that end, I’d like to think that my bumbling bowling bids are improving my health.

With the amount I have to laugh at myself during a game, I might even be losing weight.

If it weren’t for the gutter, my bowling ball would have nowhere to go.

The best part of the game, though, is being able to laugh with friends – even if we’re all laughing at me.That shows just how close we are, and it shows that we're not too proud to jokeabout ourselves.

Of course, being laughed with is totally different from being laughed at. I’m reminded of the endearing words of Mr. GrouchoMarx, who famously said: “If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy todo it for you.”

I’m sure that, with time and practice, I’ll get a little better at bowling.

I even saw improvement during my last game.

One of my friends pointed out that I'd been curving my arm ever so slightly when I bowled, and once I corrected that, my score immediately improved.

Let’s just hope I remember that the next time I go bowling – in a year or two. The next time you're not having much success at something, take a breath and have a laugh. It just might give you the strength to keep going. And if you need someone to laugh with you, drop me a line, and maybe we can try bowling.