Frisbee Golf

by Cameron Gray-Lee

When I started playing disc golf during the pandemic, I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on my life. My dad and I began to play frequently at the local course at Umass, and it morphed into a lifelong passion for us both. Now, it’s the number one source of joy and comfort for me so long as the weather obliges. And even sometimes when the weather doesn’t oblige.

Disc golf is an outdoor sport similar to golf in that there are 18 holes, and the objective is to hit a target a certain distance away in as few strokes as possible. But instead of little golf balls, we use an array of colorful frisbees, and instead of a hole in the ground as a target, we use a large, chained, metal basket on a pole.

Part of the reason disc golf was such a comfort to me amidst the mass hysteria of the pandemic, was that it was perfectly integrated into nature. By its design, disc golfers are compelled to hike up grassy California hillsides, or stroll through the colorful foliage of a New England autumn. Disc golf showcases Mother Nature’s beauty unlike any other sport.

As I started to get more competitive, I also took comfort in knowing just how amazing a community local disc golf has. I tentatively joined a local Doubles league, where you play with a randomly selected partner, and I was overjoyed to see just how welcoming, supportive, and kind the group of regulars were. One of the struggles of disc golf is losing a disc, but if you happen to lose one on a public course, nearby strangers are always more than willing to help you look for it for as long as you like. Sometimes it gets found later, and the disc golfer who finds it will happily mail it back to you. I’ve heard of a disc being mailed all the way from Australia to Sweden.

And of course, I discovered disc golf with my dad. With every new course I’ve visited, every new disc I’ve bought, every new disc I’ve thrown in a lake, he’s been right there alongside me. Disc golf is the perfect way to connect with friends and family.

But above all, I get comfort in the anticipation. The anticipation of watching my disc glide through the air, picturesquely framed by trees. Those ten seconds of hang-time are special. Though I never know where my disc will land, those ten seconds of unrivaled thrill will overcome any bad result by tenfold, and the pure joy of watching a faraway disc crash into a basket with a defiant “Ching!” will instantly make my year.

Music

by Grace O'Day

What brings you comfort? It’s a simple question. It’s a complicated answer. What kind of comfort do you mean? The cessation of a discomfort, or something that’s actually genuinely pleasant?

There are so many different types of connection through music. Music is the first thing I can remember making me feel something close to spiritual. Right here in this church, everyone singing Old Hundredth together. I knew the feel of those words on my tongue before I even knew Spanish. My dad and I often burst out into song when a phrase comes up in conversation that reminds us of a lyric. Last fall, I sat in a circle with my friends during recess and taught them the lyrics to Drunk Space Pirate, a steampunk version of the folk song Drunken Sailor, which we proceeded to sing at volume levels probably inappropriate for being so near to a building with people doing classwork. I scrawl lyrics on my arm in sharpie or eyeliner, just because. Occasionally I’ll hear the faint strains of Lost in the Cosmos filtering through the noise in the hallway, and immediately know my friend Annie is nearby. I’ve sung songs with friends through the internet by posting lyrics one at a time—it was messy and imperfect, just like singing together in real life. I once spent an entire snow day rewriting Black Velvet Band to be about A Shadow Over Innsmouth, my friend Finn’s favorite Lovecraft story.

All connection through music. Different types, of course—words so powerful that a listener wants them on their body, presenting a friend with a gift of art, bonding over singing together. But still, it’s about connection.

It’s scary, sometimes, to feel so alone in the world, as if I’m the only one who’s felt this way. But this is the beauty of music: whether it’s from what the song’s actually about or from singing together, there’s always someone there to comfort with the thought that I’m not alone.