Those who read this column weekly will probably soon tire of me writing about pickleball, the mix of badminton and tennis with a twist of paddleball and ping-pong that, according to several less than scientific media accounts, is sweeping the nation. As someone who is absolutely sick of being told by friends that I need to surrender myself to the magical powers of meditation and yoga, I sympathize with those who don’t want to hear me extol the virtues of my new favorite sport week in and week out.
Nevertheless, in this case pickleball is merely the vehicle through which I chose to weave this particular parable about finding unexpected prizes through patience and pain.
One of the great joys of this game I am so fond of is the accessibility of tournament players and the way that any hardworking person with some athletic skill or will (either will suffice) can participate at a competitive level. But while I am capable of handling myself on the pickleball court against most, I am hardly in great shape, largely due to consuming more cannabis and kind brews than I should as a 40-year-old. So after playing two matches against a couple of ringers and gold-ribbon winners while on the road out of state last month, I found myself gasping for breath and grabbing my left knee, which felt like it was just a few more stomps and twists away from a hospital visit.
Pickleball is a game of patience, which is not my specialty. Rather I prefer to whack the spit out of the whiffle, often resulting in regrettable unforced errors galore. But with my knee and head throbbing and heart reverberating against my ribs at an uncomfortable rate, I suddenly had no choice but to slow my game down. I stopped diving for impossible balls, swinging at shots that were headed out of bounds anyway, and expending energy on the kind of big swings that often end up in the net anyway. In my worst shape, I played my best pickleball.
Through darkness, light.
I am starting to feel this may be a pattern, these cues worth heeding. In another example, I recently downloaded Shift, a “desktop app for streamlining your accounts, apps, and workflows,” and was initially peeved by how the third-party email, browser, calendar, and storage management dashboard sometimes closes unused tabs on its own. That can be annoying, and I’m sure they’re working on the issue for an upgrade; at the same time, without hundreds of open tabs on my screen, I feel that I am able to get much more work done. At the very least, I feel a lot less guilty about all the articles I never get around to reading and the videos I never get to viewing. The disappearing pages are more of a malfunction than an actual feature; still, the experience has helped me shift to a perspective that I couldn’t have otherwise seen.
Nobody’s calling me an optimist anytime soon, but I’m glad that I can still find positive in anguish and frustration every now and then.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF