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Point of View: Que Sais-je?

Wed, 12/13/2023 - 19:03

I was looking at all my books the other day, and as I did I said to Mary, "It's amazing, despite having read all these books, many of them intended to impart wisdom, that I know nothing."

But knowing nothing is not such a bad thing, if one is curious, because there's so much to learn — learning how to get along, with oneself and with others on this rolling blue marble of a planet being most imperative, especially given the fact that things are so dicey. My late stepbrother said he never felt so alive as he did during the war, but I don't think a war ought to be a prerequisite for heightened awareness. Simply existing ought to be enough of a spur to do our best. 

The Christmas lights we're seeing now — long may they live, however over-the-top — attest, I think, to the serenity we'd find if we would only acknowledge how fragile and iffy everything is rather than trying to dominate, trying to impose our wills, upon the planet, upon other nations, upon our neighbors, our spouses, our children — and, in my case, our tennis partners. 

Yes, I have vowed while breath is still in me not to be such an a-hole on the tennis court, to be charitable when it comes to my partners and opponents, and, perhaps most important, to be charitable with myself. I was almost skipped a grade at the Collegiate School for being so insufferable when it came to my third-grade teammates, be it in dodgeball, softball, or potato sack races. It's time, lo, these 76 years later, to change. I began today, holding my tongue when it came to my gaffes or my partner's. We erred plenty, but I was okay with it. We were alive and playing, and having — heaven help me — fun. And when I thought that balls our opponents called "out" might be "in," I said nothing, I didn't raise a fuss.

When it was over, rather than rush off the court in a huff, as I've been known to do when on the losing side, I thanked everyone, and genuinely, not perfunctorily. 

The match had been competitive, hadn't it, one of our opponents said afterward in the lounge adjacent to the courts. Yes, it had, I said. We'd had a good game, the important thing. 

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