I've written about tennis before. I enjoy playing and watching the sport. I find myself wondering...why is that I take such pleasure in smashing a fluorescent yellow, fuzzy ball across a court and then waiting for someone to smash it back to me?
Well, it's simple, actually. It's the motion, the dance, the form of the whole game that mesmerizes me. It's the impact of the racket strings on the ball, the shuffling of feet to get into position in time to make a return, the upward toss of a serve, followed by the pronation of the arm as the wrist rolls inward. It's the endorphin and adrenaline buzz that surges through the blood and whole body. It's the rhythm and harmony in the exchange between partners and opponents. It's the thrill of victory, and the comeback from defeat.
And there's the stillness within all those actions. Stillness in action, as we say in AYP. Or, being in the zone—as some sports enthusiasts have called it. It's the condition of moving with great peace and purpose, even amidst chaotic circumstances and adversity. This state of being and doing can be considered a paradox: a hybrid of polar opposites.
Another element of the game also comes to mind, and that is the attention and applause which comes from an interested audience. Without spectators, the sport is somehow incomplete. Not to say that every match or practice session needs to be watched from the outside. What I mean is that a worthy contest will attract a captivated crowd.
I can't think of a better gift than giving one's attention to another receptive person. When we give our attention to someone else, we are touching them with our awareness. And the content of our awareness is of utmost importance. What does our consciousness contain? It could be many qualities: warm love and admiration, cold discernment and observation, best wishes, affection, aversion, confusion, hatred, serenity, exuberance, and so many other seed-feelings and ideas.
When tennis players are watched by their fans, the players are affected by the incoming gaze. When the crowd is elated and chanting for the success of their chosen favorite, that emotionally infused awareness can elevate the competitors on court to a higher level. The crowd thrives off the competitors, and the competitors thrive off the crowd. It's symbiotic.
In non-competitive circumstances, the same is true. Whether it's a collaboration in art, or a joint effort in a community group, the stillness and energy exchanged will play a crucial role in the success of the venture. There is no doubt about it. It's simple and obvious.
Going back to the topic of rooting for particular players, one thing I've realized is that I don't like every single person the same as I like some of my favorite people. That's an honest statement. Nature makes us selective and preferential in order to diversify us and form cohesive groups. But nature also glues the separate groups together to achieve the overarching goal of unity. So, I may not like all people the same, but I have come to love them for who they are, which is beyond preference. I am rooting for their success, even if they're not my favorite. It's in my highest self-interest to do so. It's not some forced, altruistic contrivance. It's just a natural byproduct of seeing my self reflected in everything and everyone.
Even the most fierce competitors can shake hands and be friends after the game. It doesn't have to be a fight to the death. There is such a thing as healthy competition. It's just a matter of perceiving and acting from a place of self-awareness, which does not exclude anyone from the vast, cosmic game.
Thank you for reading. Unity. Strength. Wisdom.