8.9.12

report of transcendence from treadmill


past three days, i walked over 5 hours, may be even 6 hours on treadmill. it is a quite an unusual thing as the treadmill, true to its cliche identity, can be extremely boring.

what kept me there?

tennis (gasp!)

since i was a (fat) kid (with horrid vision and spacial awareness), i was never into sports. even when i lost the weight, i did keep my sports fairly simple: no balls! see, sports with one vector such as running, cycling, rowing, paddling, i can handle. however, if there are more than one vector (ie. opponent and moving ball), this is where this particular monkey brain splatters in a very small yet a gross vector.  and watching sports- well, it is hard to appreciate some sports when you cant even bother to play them. how would i know what is incredible if i cannot appreciate the difficulty of the situation? and who wants to watch an entire night of football/baseball/basketball when you can do something else (ie. entertaining, cooking, reading, blathering)?

tennis in particular has been a bad experience.  not only i totally sucked, i also managed to dislocate my shoulder while serving. that was that. i was may be... 11? time to break and burn that racket.

but this summer, i accidentally rolled into one of the most exciting game of tennis: men's semi final for the 2012 olympics, del potro vs. federer.  i was simply making tower of lunches for minnow to store in fridge when bbc decided to air this random game on iplayer. hmm. federer. i know the name. so what's he about?

with slight curiosity (even less so compare to my eagerness to understand the any of the track cycling events- i still do not understand individual pursuit event at all), i started to watch with passive minor interest.

after +4.5 hrs, i was still watching. veggies all around the kitchen. dirty utensils everywhere. jaw dropped to the floor, somewhere between the carrot tops and compost bin.

i was hooked.  this game of tennis.

what a brutal game.  unlike most sports, where you can be the winner by stroke of luck, tennis' got this peculiar rule: you must win at least by two points.  from the serve, you get two tries.  to win a game, one must have two points ahead. when A gets ahead by a point from 40, which is really the third point (counts goes: 0-15-30-40), A is now at 'advantage.' if A gets another point, A wins that game. however, the genius stroke comes: if B takes a point, A's advantage is then nullified: 40-40, a deuce: the advantage no longer exists and now there are at a equal point.

one may win a set only by being ahead of one's opponent by two point: a game, which will usually go up to 6, will be continued until there is two-point difference: hence the appearance of no. 7.  or even larger numbers. in case of delpo and federer, we were talking third set that pushed up to: 17!

0-0
0-1
1-1
1-2
2-2
...
17-17

this was the epic third set that went over 4.5 hrs. and at 17, delpo broke.

both men, keeping the composure of ubermensch- no breakdown, anger or frustration.  there was no room for emotional sway. they werent just playing tennis. it was a bizarre martial arts competition. it was the fight of the titans. of selves. and nothing but the selves. one against the other.

i never read it, but there's the (in)famous book, inner game of tennis, which, supposedly talk about the importance of mental strength, focus and concentration.  in fact, it was (still is) so popular among musicians, we eventually ended up having our own version written by the author: inner game of music. i heard about it so many times, and i brushed it off: yeah yeah, get it. focus. prepare. get over it, continue. yadayada.

but this was the game that i really saw what it meant. and unlike team sports or doubles, the game was played by two matched individuals. no room to blame anyone else.  no room to hide.

delpo, when federer tied for point no. 17, he broke. he pulled his shirt over his face for three seconds. and that was that. 17-17, 17-18, 17-19, game over. federer won.

we knew. when delpo pulled the short over his face, he cracked his composure. and it went. the whole game. these men are phenomenally gifted and trained to absolute peak.  they could probably have any gear that money could buy. they can hit any part of the court, at the speed they choose, at the angle they choose. so who wins?

the one who is stronger. in the heart.

what an incredible game. and seeing delpo crumble, it really did break my heart. suppose that him being a lovely looking melancholic latino man also added a bit of beauty to the scene, haha.

so when i realized it is the week of US open and my gym has treadmill with telly on it, that was it. my evenings/afternoons were filled with drama at that little blue court. delpo-roddick. delpo-djokovic. azarenka-sharapova.  three days, 5+ hours on treadmill. and not relaxing at all!

i wonder how long i would keep watching tennis. this is pretty much the end of 2012 season.  would i start to watch the slam games next year? who knows. but one thing is for sure. watching these giants playing singles games, i find beauty, courage and inspiration.  the sense of responsibility. the finesse of physical execution.  and towering mental strength.

i am glad tennis exists.
what a world this is, making giants and heroes out of mere mortals.
because we are limited mortals, we look up.
as we can, even on the daily hamster wheel,
can taste and even grasp the same magnificence,
regardless of the size of the tasks we perform.
this gives me hope.
let us play, in every moment of our lives,
pursuit of excellency and elegance.
let us fail and get up, to take another shot.
after all, we are fragile and we are breakable.
and that makes us beautiful.



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