When it comes to ball sports most people could probably tell you that I’m not the first person you want on your team. Awkward, generally afraid of the ball and seriously lacking in hand-eye coordination, the only thing I really have going for me is endurance and running, which I usually use to put as much distance between me and the ball as possible. And I mean this quite literally. On more than one occasion in high school P.E. during the softball unit the teacher had to hold my feet to the ground in an effort to keep me from taking off every time it was my turn to bat and that giant, hard, white ball came straight at my head. I usually managed to escape, much to my team’s disappointment. Suffice it to say, sports and I are not a good match.
So, a few months ago when A started playing tennis and tried to get me to join, my answer was a flat out no. No ball. No racket. No, no and no. Thank you. The memories of high school P.E. and the accompanying embarrassment/fear associated with them kept me well off the courts over the weeks as he headed out to play matches with our fellow foreign teachers. He always came back from these outings in high spirits, much the same way that I return from my morning runs. And, despite my adamant no to playing, he kept asking. It became a kind of joke, the question always receiving a negative in varying shades of vehemence.
And then one Tuesday morning over a month ago he asked and I said yes, much to both our surprise. If I remember correctly, he asked who I was and what I had done with Kiwi (obviously she had gone to Mars!). Nonetheless, we got a second racket, trekked the 30 minutes to the courts and discovered that although my aim is atrocious, as is my form, I actually can hit a ball. And not just once. Over and over and over again. I have never been able to hit a ball with any kind of stick (racket, bat…an actual stick). After years and years of telling myself that ball sports were scary, it was amazing to find out that they (well, at least tennis) can be quite fun, in fact, and that you don’t have to be some sort of crazy, super skilled, oblivious-to-pain person to enjoy them.
In the last month I’ve made it to the courts a few more times, never to play (I am SO not ready for that) but just to have fun learning how to be a ball-sport person. There is major satisfaction in the sound of the ball hitting the racket and the way it sends a jolt up my arm. And, even though it really isn’t good form, there is some joy in watching the ball sail over the fence (though I never do so intentionally-like I said, aim and form aren’t my forte) as I didn’t think I could hit a ball so hard. I have come to realize how important it is to try to do those things that I have previously closed my mind to doing. You never know if that thing could add so much joy to life if you would just try it again.
Here’s to a lovely day of tennis and trying new things!