Thursday, April 28, 2016

Meet Nick, the Stick

There is a store in Houston where they have an indoor court and you can actually hit with almost any racket they have. I went there this past weekend to shop for a racket. I'd researched options in advance to narrow down my field of possible choices. Too many choices overwhelm me. I know this about myself. I ended up trying out four different rackets and made my final selection without too much drama or fanfare.

However, when I got back to my aunt's house with the racket, I noticed a nick in the paint job. I was annoyed at first. I'd broken one of my cardinal rules by letting the sales guy go get me the racket. Ordinarily I would have gone through the stack myself and chosen my racket. But, as a friend reminded me, it's going to get more dinged up in play and that just makes for an early start on a sense of character for my racket. Thus, the name "Nick the Stick" was born and selected for my racket.

Because of all the rain in our area I had the racket for over a week before I finally got to hit with it at drills. I think I like my racket! The instructor told me I was hitting well. I said thanks, but...wait for it...I also told him I got a new racket, as though that made all the difference in the world. I've seen this kind of thinking before, in photography, where newbies sometimes focus more on getting the Right Camera than on building their skills or training their eyes to see. It wasn't the new racket that was helping me hit well so much as it was the continuing instruction and working at getting the basics down by doing what some might call boring and repetitive drills.

I had my own problems in the beginning, because I'd played tennis, 25 years ago, and I knew the basics. It didn't work that way. I am now 25 years older. I'd forgotten a few basics things about grip and stance and other things I can't even think of at this moment. My game was stalled. Had I kept on insisting that I'd taken lessons and played twice a week (25 years ago), so I am good, thankyouverymuch, my game would still be stalled. 

If one is not willing to learn, the most expensive camera in the world is not going to improve one's photography skills. If one is not willing to admit she doesn't know everything there is to know about playing tennis and is unwilling to take instruction, then the 'Best Racket" in the world, whatever that might turn out to be, will not automatically make a better tennis player out of anyone.

Being teachable, and willing to take instruction, these things lead to learning. For me, learning indicates growth, one of my higher values. I'm happy with that.

And I'm the owner of a shiny red tennis racket that is German engineered to be easy on the arm. I'm happy about that. Being happy about stuff (both tangible and intangible) brings me joy. Finding joy, seeing joy, that's another of my values.

If I were the advising type, my advice would be to go learn something new, and in times of darkness, don't overlook the small places where joy might be hiding. In both of these things, I have found growth.


  1. I'm glad that Nick the stick and you are both enjoying yourselves.

    1. Me too! Now if we can only do something about all this rain so Nick and I can get out more!

  2. I reeeeeally like that non-advice. And Nick is a beaut. Even with his li'l beauty mark.

  3. Everything needs a name - even a tennis racket.

    Your wisdom is leaking out of pretty much everything you do these days. What an immense gift you are giving the world...

  4. Love the racket, nick and all. I haven't played in more than 25 years, but it used to be a big thing in my family. I can't even imagine doing it now. You have done a good thing for your body and your spirit.

    1. Thanks, Susan! I'm really enjoying it!


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