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Point of View: To the Light

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 17:41

“Physically, I’m in decent shape, it’s my mental condition that worries me,” I said to my doubles partner the other day, and she, concurring, said that tennis was indeed “a mental game.”

“Anybody can hit the ball,” Bud Collins once said to me.

She suggested I absent myself from myself for a while, as it were, for about 15 to 20 minutes every day, just stop what I was doing and breathe in and breathe out. 

I tried it in truncated form during the match, which worked pretty well, but, every now and then, on botching a return that would have written an emphatic finis to a rally, a primal scream came forth, unbidden, but there it was — not as dramatic as it is when we’re playing inside, when the building shakes, but pretty loud. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. . . .

I aim to win the victory over myself before I’m done. People will no longer have to say shut to me. It would be a great triumph. Pride, I know, is my sin, pride that goeth before destruction, the haughty spirit that goeth before a fall. 

Tom says it is the case with him too. Both of us, being former squash players, think we can get everything back, whether in the air or on the half bounce. But that overconfidence often leaves us rooted in “no man’s land,” around the service line, to curse, with a mutter in his case, a wail in mine, our fates.

I would very much like not to feel so possessed. It could well be the Synthroid, though Mary thinks it’s a convenient excuse. Loosen up, lighten up. In my best moments I know these are the paths to the light.

“Still whining, Jack?” Gino asked, with a smile, the other day, Gino, who takes delight whenever I melt into a profane, self-abusive heap.

But if I achieve inner peace, will he continue to play with me? Will the others? Will they take offense at all the breathing in and breathing out? Will it mess with their concentration, will it put them off their games, will they be miffed? Ah, that’s it! If I can, in achieving inner peace, bedevil them, what a coup, what a triumph — not only over myself, but over those with whom I contend. 

My heart is beating fast, I must be calm, I must be calm. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. . . . Wahoo

“Physically, I’m in decent shape, it’s my mental condition that worries me,” I said to my doubles partner the other day, and she, concurring, said that tennis was indeed “a mental game.”

“Anybody can hit the ball,” Bud Collins once said to me.

She suggested I absent myself from myself for a while, as it were, for about 15 to 20 minutes every day, just stop what I was doing and breathe in and breathe out. 

I tried it in truncated form during the match, which worked pretty well, but, every now and then, on botching a return that would have written an emphatic finis to a rally, a primal scream came forth, unbidden, but there it was — not as dramatic as it is when we’re playing inside, when the building shakes, but pretty loud. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. . . .

I aim to win the victory over myself before I’m done. People will no longer have to say shut to me. It would be a great triumph. Pride, I know, is my sin, pride that goeth before destruction, the haughty spirit that goeth before a fall. 

Tom says it is the case with him too. Both of us, being former squash players, think we can get everything back, whether in the air or on the half bounce. But that overconfidence often leaves us rooted in “no man’s land,” around the service line, to curse, with a mutter in his case, a wail in mine, our fates.

I would very much like not to feel so possessed. It could well be the Synthroid, though Mary thinks it’s a convenient excuse. Loosen up, lighten up. In my best moments I know these are the paths to the light.

“Still whining, Jack?” Gino asked, with a smile, the other day, Gino, who takes delight whenever I melt into a profane, self-abusive heap.

But if I achieve inner peace, will he continue to play with me? Will the others? Will they take offense at all the breathing in and breathing out? Will it mess with their concentration, will it put them off their games, will they be miffed? Ah, that’s it! If I can, in achieving inner peace, bedevil them, what a coup, what a triumph — not only over myself, but over those with whom I contend. 

My heart is beating fast, I must be calm, I must be calm. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. . . . Wahoo


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