Hello all. Long time no see.
I think it's been more than a year since they instituted the blog-block at work, and it continues to make life tough for me. I used to be able to count on 30 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week, to put things out here that interested me. I think it's been 2 months since I've blogged anything regularly, and I don't see any breaks coming soon. I continue to be quite busy at home, and just seem to be getting busier.
One of my preoccupations these days has been tennis. This year I've played a very full tournament schedule, and I have learned SO MUCH about this game!
I cannot believe I ever thought I knew anything about tennis.
I don't know when I've ever been so profoundly humbled.
It's been very good for me.
Here's what's humbling about it. I used to think I knew as much about tennis as I did about being a Christian. Now that I know how badly I've sucked all these years at tennis, I'm pretty sure I'm right about being just that good a Christian, too. If people with true devotion can be so much better than me at a silly game, I am awed at how deep the waters of true wisdom might truly be.
I think about how far I thought I was in tennis, versus how far I now know I still have to go, all most every day. And almost every day I'm reminded how far I thought I was on the road to being a decent Christian. Well, praise the Lord, it just means I have that much more excitement and hope ahead of me.
The rest of life is really going well. I'm quite happy these days, and really feel the blessing of the Lord in every area of my life. I just figured I'd check in and let those of you keeping score know that things are good.
I do have several half-baked posts mocked up in my inbox. Maybe some day I'll actually write a couple of them. :-)
For those of you with too much time on your hands, let me tell you about my year of tennis-ing dangerously.
Here's the score. I've put all sorts of time and effort into learning how to play tennis right, and then teaching my body to do what my brain has absorbed, and what I've learned is that people who have been doing exactly that same thing for years are much better than me. I'm exactly 11 months into my master plan for local tennis domination, and so far I have yet to make it past the quarter finals of a single tournament. My record is something like 4-9, with at least 2 of those losses being 0-6, 0-6 drubbings.
I'm a putzer. :-)
I'm proud of this part of it all, though. I've stepped onto the court and measured myself. 3 years ago, I thought I was pretty good at this game, but I was playing at the 3.5 level when the tourney's are all 5.0+ events. I had no idea what the gap is from 3.5 to 5.0. Now I know. It's the gap between 7th grade algebra (which is way tougher than arithmetic) and college level calculus (which is still way below graduate level experimental math.) Not surprisingly, I've made it up to first or second year high school level algebra, and keep failing at the college-level tests.
I've had to learn to take my game out of the ivory tower, and learn how to make it happen on the hard courts. I now know, not just what an attacking game looks like, but what it felt like both times I did it right. I know what it feels like to decide to flatten out a forehand against someone who's eaten flat forehands for lunch for 2 decades. I've measured myself against the #1 seed in 4 different tournaments now, and come up wanting every time.
My expectations were completely unrealistic (or I probably would not have had the courage to try.) The thing with expectations, though, is that we really expect them to work. Having those expectations dashed really hurt ... every single time ... repeatedly ... publicly. But after a mere 11 months, I think I am beginning to see what I can really expect, and it's rewriting my experience of the game. I look back and see some pretty quick learning, and now I really feel good about what I see.
Here's my grades, as best I can assess them:
Dimension of Tennis
The way I thought I was playing in 2007.
The way I was actually probably playing in 2007.
The way I think I'm playing now.]
Forehand: B - D - C
Backhand: C - F - B
Serve: B - D - C
Approach: C - F - C
Volley: D - F - C
Put-away: C - F - D
Mental toughness: D - C - B
I think my best chance to become a winning tennis player at this level is to turn my volley into an A. You need an A to win, and you need to force other people to play into your A strength. Right now, my best hope is to lull people into playing against my backhand and surprise them, but it's not an A and it never will be. But I think I have the nerve to make my volley an A, and I think it's a rare enough game to upset some otherwise much better players than I am.
With my newly adjusted expectations, I'm actually starting to enjoy tennis. It's been a great ride, and maybe I've got a little glory tucked away somewhere in these tired old bones. I'll tell the story of my latest win some day, if I can get to it while it's still fresh. :-)
Thanks for listening.