Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shut up and play!

When I decided about a month ago that I was ready to play tennis, I told my friend Korby that if I was playing with people who I didn't know, I might explain that I had been sick so they would know what to expect.

Korby, the captain of my tennis team, said I don't have to explain anything. She said to just go out there and play, and my confidence would come back with each game.

So that's what I did, and sure enough, by the time last Friday came around, I felt pretty normal. My serves are going in really well, and I hit some good shots. My bad shots weren't any worse than anyone else's.

There is a tendency to want to diminish expectations by starting a match with a complaint along the lines of not having slept well to justify your mistakes before you even make them. We've all done that.

But I was glad I followed Korby's advice and kept quiet. The topic of my absence from tennis has come up in chit-chat after a match, but I keep it to myself beforehand.

On Friday, a guy joined in to create an even number on the courts. There were eight in all, and we rotated after sets. I played with three other women in the first set; my partner and I lost 6-3, 6-3, but they were all good games, and, most importantly, everyone had a good time.

When it was time to mix it up, this guy came over from the other court to be my partner. He immediately complained about how badly he was playing, about how badly his clinic had gone the week before, about how he couldn't do anything right, etc.

He was a fine player, but he made himself, and me, worse by the negative talk.

I don't lay claim to all the suffering. I feel uneasy when people tell me their problems but then add, "I shouldn't complain to you, after all you've been through." I always tell them to please please do "complain." I am not the only one with problems, and I appreciate the balance of listening and talking.

But this guy on the tennis court was another matter. He was not a friend whispering in my ear, "I'm having a bad day, so please cover for me." He was just a whiner, the kind who grates on your nerves.

I felt like shouting at him, "Would you stop it? I'm coming back from leukemia and I'm not whining!"

I feel funny even writing this, because I don't want to come across as "holier than thou." But I do think there's something to be said for a little perspective.

Anyway, I did not say it, or much of anything else, even though part of doubles is talking to your partner. I just got through our set and waited for another switch. We lost, of course, not only in the score but in terms of the quality of the game.

I finished the round robin with three fun players. I got my game back and signed up for next week.


Ann said...

I think you made the right choice every time. You're taking back your life and leukemia doesn't have to define it any more. As for your whiny partner, is there anything worse? A similar fellow sits next to me in class and is always relaying some trivial slight. I just smile and nod as I mentally prepare my grocery list.

Susan C said...

What a great lesson! I can apply this to a lot of areas of my life.