Point of View: Repeating Myself

There are good days and there are bad

I know I’m repeating myself, but it was a while ago — in the mid-’70s, I think — when I last rhapsodized about keeping your eye on the ball.  

Tennis was my subject, as it is today, though Steve Bromley Sr., my doubles partner at the time, thought I’d gone a bit overboard in arguing that it — keeping your eye on the ball — was the key to bliss in general.

So let’s just stick to tennis. There are good days and there are bad, I’ve been told by my partners, who add that I should simply accept the fact. Far fewer good days, I’ll warrant, than bad in our cases.  

For pretty much the entire summer, I’ve been playing indifferently,  though cursing creatively — full-throated cris de coeur that resonate even more wonderfully when we are indoors.

This morning, being the last of the summer insofar as the Friday morning men’s doubles league goes, I resolved to see the ball as best I could, on both the forehand and backhand sides — for once. And I could tell, from the moment we began warming up, that my swing would be true, and that that would be all I needed to know.

That we won was beside the point — a lesson that’s taken me years to learn. Willing it won’t necessarily get you there. In fact overweening exertion can be a hindrance. Simply letting it flow may better guarantee victory, but, in the end, winning is beside the point: Knowing you’ve done your best is all you need to know.

“You were in the zone,” said Mary.

“Yes, I was seeing the ball come off the racket, on both sides, and — win or lose — that was all that mattered, all that matters.”

“That’s it!” she said.

“I think it’s the first time I’ve felt like this on a tennis court in some 40 years. Why are these moments so rare?”

“You’ve got to get out of your own way, and when you do it’s beautiful.”

“And that’s the truth,” I said.