I’ve been watching the US Open this past week and I am always amazed how these athletes, both experienced and not so experienced, are so focused. How, with being on a world stage watched by millions, they are able to show up and actually perform. I’m lucky I can focus for ten minutes much less hours on end. And that is not just mentally but physically as well.
My son played tennis for a number of years and I was a nervous wreck watching him in the stands. I can only imagine what it was like on the court. And then multiply that by so much more with these pros and my respect and awe goes to another level. Add to the hours of practice and the dedication it takes to keep going even when you lose and that determination is an inspiration to me.
I recently watched a fifteen year old girl win her first US open match and was so impressed by her demeanor. She had a quiet maturity within her girlish giggles of sheer surprise and excitement of actually checking off something from her bucket list (if she even has one…I think that happens when you get older and realize that you need or want a bucket list).
Where does that talent, dedication and determination come from at such a young age? At fifteen I was wondering what outfit I would buy from Casual Corner with my babysitting money. The thought of being in the US Open to me was like being able to take a shuttle to Mars.
At nineteen the tennis bug finally bit me and I was obsessed with watching every match Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova played. I’d call in sick from my job so I wouldn’t miss one stroke. I played everyday and entered a local tennis tournament to see how successful I would be. I played the top seed in the tournament and never got to feel the thrill of a win. And then I quit competing.
Not having any coaching except from playing with guys I was completely ill equipped with the knowledge or the skill to compete. I was also too old to even think about doing anything but play for fun. But I still went out and tried. I learned something about myself that day. My nerves and focus were not cut out to compete on the tennis court. I was lost in my life at the time and was grasping at straws. Anything to make me feel complete. Luckily I did find my love in the arts and was on my way. I think sometimes we often wonder if we could have done something but were too afraid to fail. I realize now that just going out and doing it I knew I needed to move on and find my way in something else.
I have read where great champions have come from the toughest backgrounds and they rise to the occasion and come out a winner. Novak Djokovic is one of those champions. He grew up in war torn Serbia where bombings were a daily occurrence. He said for three months he and his family would spend the night in the basement because of the bombings. Djokovic said that the hardships of war drove him to pursue tennis with even greater determination. He is number one in the world at age 27. Now that’s focus.
I am finding more and more that I have to follow my gut to tell me when it is time to move on. To know that I have given it my best shot. I didn’t win any tennis tournaments but I have won some of my own personal battles. It may not have made it on television but they are definitely milestones for me. I need to keep remembering no matter what age we are that our competition is really with ourselves. May sound trite at first but let it settle. For me, that’s the real game.
Today was particularly important for me as it was a huge lesson in action and reaction. I have to say I’m not particularly proud of my action and reaction but I understand where it stems from. Yep, I slipped from trying to be more patient. Guess fatigue played a huge part in my behavior. Our neighborhood has gone through a change in the last 5 or 6 years where older homeowners have died and their homes have been sold to people who do not live in the homes. They quickly renovate them to give them street appeal and then make them a rental property. That should not be a problem except that some of the tenants who move in have no vested interest in the neighborhood.
For whatever reason they move in knowing that they will be there only for a short period of time or have a number of “room mates” to pay for the expenses. Hence what happens is that different people inhabit the home at different times. One of these is the home next door to me. This home had been built by a man who took great pride in where he was living. He built his home in 1940 when the world was a different place. He lived there with his family until he had to be placed in another type of home. His distant relatives sold the house to an “investor” who remodeled it and tried to quickly turn it over for a profit. Then the market went soft and the house didn’t sell. Hence the parade of tenants that have come and gone in a home that once had spirit. Now it appears to be a fancy apartment building.
After having worked a week of nights I looked forward to finally having a break. Not to be had. The home next door became a location for numerous bands to set up and play outside as if they were performing at the Hollywood Bowl. It would have been ok if the quality had been Hollywood Bowl material. Sadly, it wasn’t. So a nice, mostly quiet residential street became the venue for a bad rock concert.
Here is where my action and reaction comes to light. Maybe it’s just me in my old fashion, proverbial way but a note letting the neighbors know would have maybe soften the effect. However, to set up shop with no notice seems to me, well, selfish. And I guess I got annoyed not so much because I was tired or because it seemed like we were going to listen whether we liked it or not but because the world now seems to be renting to tenants that don’t seem to be aware of just good manners.
I won’t elaborate on all of the events that have been happening in the world recently as we are well versed to all of it from all sides but it seems deep down I reacted to things that would not be such a big deal if it only happened on a small scale like my neighborhood. Today’s event was just a reminder of how I need to stop before I react and put my actions into perspective. I need to realize that everyone and everything is not going to go my way. But I don’t want to lose sight that for me I still have to be aware of being sensitive to good manners and respect for my neighbors, next door to me and in the world. In reality, they played for only a couple of hours and were gone. I reacted from a number of emotions least of them from the loud, bad music. I don’t want to believe that good fences make good neighbors because we have some wonderful, kind and generous neighbors who love their homes and whom I love and cherish.
Tomorrow maybe I’ll bring the musicians over a pie.
Lila or Leela, as it is sometimes spelled, is Sanskrit for play, spontaneity or sport. I am trying to get more lila in my life. I use to be very “lilaful” when I was younger, looking to new adventures and possibilities. I felt I had a path and purpose to what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life.
I realize now the “rest of my life” can be a pretty long time. I am grateful for having my health and the opportunity to have seen many amazing places and things in my years but now I’m having a harder time trying to be playful.
You would think after raising a child, securing a career and being at a place where I can somewhat relax I would be content to just be. But my busy mind keeps me aware of the fact that I have enough time to embark on many different endeavors. I just can’t seem to nail down anything in particular so the feeling of being in limbo is just as frustrating if not more than knowing what you want but not being able to have it.
I know I’m not alone. It seems many people I speak to feel the same way. It’s not that they don’t enjoy what they are doing it’s just that they feel they are not living to their fullest potential. I still feel like I have a lot to offer and have this burning desire to teach and travel. That would be my play! I want to fire up the juices again that made me ambitious in the first place! So much to say and so little time!
I want to find the Peter Pan in me again. I don’t necessarily want to get a tattoo or dye my hair blue to show the child in me but I don’t want to lose the joy of life that makes even the simplest things sublime. To dream and look for fresh inspiration. That is play at its finest at any age.
The recent passing of Robin Williams was so sad on so many levels. He was the epitome of play and he tried every moment to live that joy. I admire that. His talent and gentleness and kindness was his way of trying to survive. Thank God I don’t suffer from the depression he endured and I am able to pull myself up and dust myself off when things don’t always go my way. I just need to remember that when the cloud passes I still have the choice and presence of mind to choose play. To choose life.
Lila hum. I am playful.