Usually, we like to think of love as a thing that happens between people, or towards other creatures, but love is way beyond that! Love is the fabric that allows life to connect to itself so deeply that it briefly becomes one.
I can tell you this is the case through my own direct experience. At the age of 7 or 8, I made such a connection with the sport of tennis that it became me. I basically disappeared into tennis and there was no me without it. It’s all I cared and thought about, in school, when we had assignments to write about some experiences, it was always what I wrote about. I was in love with tennis. Of course, this relationship eventually became toxic because it became an obsession, and it no longer was just a pursuit of the heart, it got infiltrated by the mind, as many human relationships fall prey to as well. Anytime the mind takes over, there is a need to control the situation, people no longer just allow the other to be themselves as was in the beginning, and the same was the case for me with tennis. I wanted to control it, but if you ask any wise master of their craft, they will undoubtedly tell you, that you must learn to disappear in it and then the magic happens.
Tennis taught me many life lessons, brought me community, paid for my education, allowed me to explore some of the world, and was my only source of income for many years. Tennis was also the foundation that started my long term relationship with an ex girlfriend. For many people, this might not be relatable, and they might think tennis is stupid! But what I’m trying to point to with this post is not that you need to like and now start playing tennis, it’s to realize that practically anything in life that you are totally involved with, has this capability. That’s connection, that’s love. So before you tell your kids to just study and focus on getting a good education, rather then to play or pursue the interests of their heart, I would like to interject and say that most of my education came through sports. I didn’t make millions of dollars, but I learned tools that allowed me to be successful in any venture I choose to pursue.
One of the greatest gifts that I received from tennis wasn’t even a tangible thing, and I was a nationally ranked tennis player in Canada, received a DII scholarship to the US, was awarded freshmen of the year at university, which I even beat out a DI hockey player to get. That was huge, because hockey was #1 at our school, and literally, the whole town came to the games and it’s what funded all the other sports. Plus many other accolades. This gift that I am talking about is, discipline. When one dedicates an extraordinary amount of time and energy to something in life, they do get better at the thing that they are doing, but more importantly they learn something more valuable, and that is that dedication and persistence are fundamental to achieving greatness. If I didn’t love tennis, there would be no way in hell that I would sacrifice so much for it.
If you aren’t a high performance athlete, you probably don’t realize that to do a physical activity for many hours a day is grueling. Your body is hurting everyday, but that’s what it takes and it’s worth it. That’s the physical part, and then there is the mental, which is even harder! Your mind is constantly at a fight with you, and it is relentless. There are only a few short moments where it stops, and allows you to celebrate your achievements, but those are very fleeting.
Playing tennis was a view into myself, while through coaching tennis is where I was given the view into others. I developed an understanding that I wasn’t the only one dealing with this crazy nutcase, that is the mind! I seen it in individual players, in teams, and even more so, in the parents of the juniors that I was teaching. There was a battle going on inside of all these people and through that insight, that this wasn’t just a thing going on within me, was what got me to start to get fascinated into the workings of the mind. It was the beginning foundations of Be Human, Not a Zombie.
A few tennis pros I got to meet during my time coaching in Miami
Hitting Session with Alim
If you are a tennis player and are watching this wondering if I have a two-handed forehand, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, it is true. I grew up playing with a regular size racquet and just kept it because I like taking my own route. I would not recommend this to people learning, but who am I to say what will work for you. Well, I am a coach so I guess I would be the one to tell you what to do haha but I don’t because ultimately it’s your choice. Unless your a junior and want to play at a high level, then trust me choose the 1 handed route, it’s less bumpy.