The reason why I am a tennis fan, by Paula.
About five years ago, I was depressed and unhealthy. I had two beautiful children -- I still have them--who I felt I did not deserve and felt that I failed everyday. I had people in my life -- I still do, although perhaps less of them - who I also felt I disappointed. To relax and get out of the house and get away from it all, I would go to my corner bar and shoot pool. Before I was married, I played pool for the Bud Lite League, where I was ranked and 3.0 player (out of 6). I loved pool. In life, I think it is important to walk around and be nice to people. Compassion is the very reason for our existence, or should be. Or something like that. But, inevitably, people are awful to you after you show them compassion. For instance, once I had a friend who needed a lot of compassion and I wanted to give it to her! But she was always a total bitch back. When she was a bitch back, I would think compassionate thoughts, like, oh, she's being a bitch back because she's not comfortable with how needy she is, how much compassion she needs. Which made me feel more compassion for her. One of our last phone conversations went like this:
Ring Ring. (that's the phone.)
(It's Halloween eve, and I'm busy with my kids. We are having fun! It's Halloween.)
Hi, Paula, it's Blake.
Hi Blake! Happy Halloween!!
I've decided not to take the kids trick or treating. And I think that's OK.
We are just going to stay here and give out candy. I think that's fine.
Of course that's fine!
It's just as fun.
Sure! We stay in and give out candy and go out! It's all good fun!
Well, I'm not going out.
Well that's just fine.
(This goes on for awhile. I want to get back to my kids! It's Halloween! We're having fun!)
You're great, Blake. Have a great rest of the night. I'm going to go back to my kids now.
What are your kids for Halloween?
Yugi O and a fake-muscled Power Ranger! They are so cute!
Oh. Yugi O? Power Ranger? My kids are not, repeat not, cartoon characters from the televsion. (Sniff. Cough.) We would never let our kids wear costumes of TV cartoon characters.
All right, Blake! Gotta go! Great talking to you! Happy Halloween!
And so it was. She shat on me while I tried to make her feel good. Truthfully, I think it's nice to take one's children trick or treating, but I wasn't going to say that to her, because clearly she was feeling badly about not taking her kids trick or treating. So, I'd rather just make her feel good than share the honest feeling of - Man, take your fucking kids out even if you don't want to. Because what would be the point of that? It would have only made her feel worse than she was already feeling. Now, I don't ever ever regret kindness. But it doesn't always come back at you. In fact, the people who need it the most then NEED to shit on you, because they are so unhappy or insecure or whatever, that after you are nice to them, it even makes them feel BETTER if they shit on you, because they think that when they shit on you, they are being superior to you, instead of being a pathetic, mean asshole.
And so shooting pool is about beating someone. About making them lose to you. And I was a polite pool player, but I wasn't playing pool to make someone feel good about themselves! I was trying to kick some ass, man! And it felt good. It felt like getting away from the daily life of being nice to people. It was a balance. A balance, yes but, also so named by that wonderful band called Eagles of Death Metal, as a thing called "zeroing". That's righ, zeroing. For instance - be nice to people plus kick someone's ass at pool equal - zero. Get it?
But I would drink and smoke a lot. And I was unhealthy.
So I did some thinking. What if I played tennis instead? I had never played tennis in my life. I was too busy shooting pool and smoking. But I thought, tennis is one person against another person. (Just like pool.) Tennis is angles. (Just like pool.) Tennis involves a ball. (Pool involves balls.) And you generally don't play tennis in a bar! Which makes it better than pool if you're getting all unhealthy from spending all of your spare time in bars smoking and drinking! And -- AND!! -- you try to beat the crap out of people! And that doesn't mean that you're not nice! It's part of the game!!!
So I started taking tennis lessons. It took a few years for the switch to happen, the mental switch, the - I'm obsessed with tennis, not pool switcheroo. And now, my appreciation of all sports and their true purpose in our lives is a fully realized major part of my consciousness. The almost Divine Purpose of Sports is soooo evident to me. People exist, so must sports exist. First there were people, then we had sex and had more people, and then we started to play sports so that we could be nice to people, except when playing sports. So we could "zero' (thanks, Josh Homme). So we could try to kick someone's ass and then go be nice. And we wouldn't have to smoke and drink whilst doing so.
During that time, I also began watching a lot of tennis. My children, who I failed and who I didn't deserve, were now in school full time. My husband had a job.I would watch tennis and think. Look at these beautiful people! Look at that beautiful shot! Look how they put themselves out there, literally out in front of other people, alone, trying to do the best they can, trying to win. How valiant. How noble. And, honestly, when they fail, it is in some ways even more noble than when they win. Because they took a risk and they failed publicly and what takes more balls than that? And I realized that every little accomplishment, every effort toward accomplishment, was an act of beauty. A tiny little ripple in the small, insignificant life of a human being. In a life full of disappointments, failures, laziness, fear, bitches, self loathing, dirty houses, children who deserve better than you, etc...tennis is a little, shining beacon of hope of a ripple. And when I realized that, the little tiny accomplishments of my life- being patient with my sons, vacuuming, being nice to someone who was a total bitch, getting up in the morning before noon -- felt like little ripples, too, like little beacons of light in the dark world of the world. And I realized we are all just here to make ripples. And that is enough. And I stopped being so depressed.
So not only is tennis away of zeroing, of getting to try to kick ass after being nice all day, it is also a way of making a ripple. A beautiful, human ripple, filled with so many ripple unforced errors. But beautiful nontheless. And this is all we can ask from our lives.