Point of View: Atop My List

They say that if you’re not worrying about the outcome, things go better in sports, thus enabling you to remain in the moment, and I suppose you could say the same about life, whose outcome, while still a dark glass in my view, is nonetheless definitive.

My tennis partners and I sometimes banter about the Great Chair Umpire in the sky. “ ‘When I don’t see candles and don’t smell flowers, I know it’s time to get up and greet the day,’ Red Skelton used to say,” said Gino during a recent break in our doubles game.  

Three of us then segued from death to the Oscars, weighing the merits of “Green Book,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which I thought, in the end, ought to have won for having nailed it when it comes to truth and beauty. 

As we talked, our fourth walked out, but only momentarily, miffed, I suppose, that, given the serious matter at hand, we were wasting precious time. I could see his point. Earlier in the match, in fact, I said I’d like to play tennis all day. When things are going well, when you’re not thinking about the outcome, in other words, euphoria envelops you, and bonhomie. It is a wonderful feeling, and you play better, more “within yourself” as they say, because of it.

You may remember Cailin Riley’s beautifully written piece about me in a recent issue of The East Hampton Press, headlined “Everyone Knows Jack.” “But everyone does not love Jack,” I said to Mary, who needed no reminding, having been kept fully abreast of my myriad decidedly not beautiful (though true, Har-Tru, in fact) meltdowns over the years.

So, becoming a more companionable opponent remains atop my bucket list — no more jumping over the net to remonstrate over outrageously incorrect line calls — knowing in my heart of hearts that lightheartedness can more surely than fits of temper ease you into the flow.            

And the flow is all ye need to know.