Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The inner game of my tennis

Played tennis with my friend David the other day in Princeton.  It followed a pretty predictable script. I started off serving poorly, but playing well, even as I felt in my mind that I was fucking up.. But I kept playing conservatively, letting him make mistakes.  Pretty soon I was up 4-1.  He was frustrated.

On the one hand, I felt good for playing well.  But a conflict arose.  David and I are generally pretty evenly matched, and to crush him would upset the balance of power, and we don't see one another very often.

I by no means tanked the match. I would have liked, honestly, to have had the discipline to keep executing according to plan and playing well. But I didn't really care to mess with my boy's head.

Plus, playing conservatively and letting him make mistakes is somewhat boring.  Also, he was a little angry.  He stepped up his game, and I started going for some winners.  Indeed, I hit some.  But before long, he was up 6-5, and the sun was getting high in the sky, and it was time to swim.  We decided that we would not be playing a tiebreaker, no matter what.  It ended up 6-6.

Although I lost the eye of the tiger as far as winning goes, the second half of the set was much funner than the first half, because I stopped focusing on beating him and got into the groove of having fun.

Which brings us back to the broader question of goal-directedness, and the general focus thereupon in contemporary "success" thinking.  What was my goal in getting on the court?  Winning?  Exercise? Having some yux with my boy?  Clearly 2 and 3 were more important than 1.  So that's how it went down.

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