Sunday, July 27, 2014

Follow your passion


Your parents or your teachers can tell you how to lead your life, they cannot teach you about how to live your life. Like many things in life, you just have to figure it out yourself. You may think you need guidance and encouragement, your parents and teachers can only tell you the type of vocation they think is best for you, it is entirely up to you to figure out how you want to make the best of your attributes. If you have a passion for something, you really have to go out there and give it all you have. You cannot look for anyone to believe in you or anything like that. You just have to believe in yourself as nobody is going to get behind you and pet you and say, “It’s okay, you can do it.” You just have to do it if you believe in your ability. Period.

Tennis is my favourite sport and I am constantly amazed by the tenacity demonstrated in the games of some of  the top tennis professional players. I think it is absolutely a delightful treat to watch grand slams events and the major tennis tournaments. This July, Wimbledon season ended with a grand final match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Two years ago, Rafael Nadal was blown off the lawn court in the second round by the world no 100, Lukas Rosaol, who was making his Wimbledon debut after losing in the first round of qualifying five times in a row. Last year Nadal went out in the first round to Steve Darcis, the world No 135. He was having perennial knee trouble. He had to play the whole year with anti-inflammatory drugs in every single match. He was quoted as saying, “All my life it was a real goal for me to play well on grass. When I started my career a lot of people said : ‘With his style, he won’t be able to play well on grass.’ That really motivates me even more.” Nadal did win the Grand Slam in Wimbledon in 2008. Of course he is extraordinary and he has fourteen grand slam single titles. You may say they are sports professionals but their sheer tenacity is something we should emulate.

Roger Federer is a sport legend.  On 6 July this year , we watched one of his finest tennis. He did not win Wimbledon final although he could have. A father to two sets of twins, at nearing 33 years old, Federer could have been the oldest man in more than a half-century to win Wimbledon but he did not win the men’s singles. As  an ardent fan of Federer like many other fans around the world, I  rooted for Federer to win as my eyes glued in front of the television watching live telecast. The next day,my daughters asked if I had displayed the same expression as the Duke and Duchess of  Cambridge who had gasped at the action on Centre Court last Sunday when Federer lost a key point during his match with Novak Djokovic. Trailing 5-4 in the fourth set, Federer managed to hit a serve that turned out to be an ace, one of his 29 in the match. Then he went on to break in the next game and force a fifth set and thus  Djokovic had to regroup when they headed into a deciding 5th set. It was definitely an awesome match to watch and the legacy of  the tennis whiz, Roger Federer  continues. His marvelous artistry on grass is dazzling.
 Only a very selected people in this world might have been born with natural talents and not every talented individual has been blessed with the opportunities to demonstrate his or her inborn skills as some of these people may have hidden talents but they probably are never going to develop their special abilities. However we have to acknowledge that these top  talented  players might have been equipped with the genetic make-up, they definitely practise extremely hard and they have the concentration and commitment to tackle their grueling schedules and the right work ethics and attitude in what they are doing best.

I read Double Fault  by the author, Lionel Shriver before reading her orange prize winner :We Need to Talk about Kevin, the chilling and intense read with horrifying twists and turns. I  have a tendency to carry around with me the book I happen to be reading wherever I go just in case I have a moment to read. Many years ago, I had  left the book ‘Double Fault’ in one of the toilets at a shopping mall and when I returned to the same cubicle to look for it , it was gone. Perhaps another bibliophile had taken it thinking that the book had been left by a BookCrosser. Frankly I would be too unwilling to part with any of my books to participate in BookCrossing and  as much as I love books, I will never touch a book that is left in a public toilet. After losing my copy of the novel, I had to get a replacement copy to finish reading the fiction . Double Fault written by Lionel Shriver is a love story set on a tennis court. Willy Novinsky, the female protagonist has been playing tennis since she was four. She falls in love with Eric Oberdorf, a Princeton maths graduate who only picks up the racket at age 18. Willy is focused and Eric is fanatic. While Willy’s progress is steady, it is laborious. Despite a late start, Eric races ahead and his tennis career skyrockets and Eric is one of those smart and gifted men whom it is easy to love and hate . The story carries a not so subtle message that sometimes we may want things too badly that it does not happen due to lack of emotional strength and psychological sensibility. The story tells us tennis is a great test of character and it also makes us look at the battle of the sexes from a renewed angle. Willy is  physically and emotionally weaker than Eric and she lacks the casual assumption of success and the confidence Eric exudes. She had a head start but her career has taken a downturn after her knee injury. When she lost a match to  Eric who somehow proved to be a better player, something more than a tennis match has been lost . Perhaps the fact that her defeatist father was not supportive of her ambition to turn tennis pro might have put a damper on her spirit and somehow compelled her to prove her dad wrong desperately. Maybe her dad just wanted to protect his own daughter from failing since he is smarting from his failed endeavour that probably has prompted him to become practical. As the story unfolds, Willy’s dad could only have the best intentions for her.  This is how Shriver describes Willy.
‘That the institution of marriage had been thoroughly discredited by the time Willy was born didn’t delay her acceptance of Eric’s proposal by ten seconds. Granted her own parents set a poor example;Willy envied neither her glumly patriarchal father nor his cheerfully submissive sidekick. But she might have envied her parents at their first meeting, in 1961:when her mother, Colleen , was a flighty modern dance student, leaping through recitals to the beat bongos inside a helix of scarves, and her father, Charles, was an undiscouraged beatnick scribbler, whose pockets bulged from squiggled napkins and leaky ballpoint pens. Willy clung to the notion that nothing about marriage itself condemned her mother to dismiss an ambition to dance as vain folly, nor her father to turn on his own credulous literary aspirations with such a snarl. And surely had she wed in this more liberal era, the acquiescent Colleen might have told Charles to get a grip and stop moaning and sometimes gone her own way. Despite overwhelming evidence that both true love and domestic balance of power were myths, Willy still believed in the possibility of an ardent, lasting union between equals, much as many religious skeptics still kept faith in an afterlife because the alternative was too unbearable. 
So all through a militantly independent young adulthood Willy had been waiting. At last along came Eric Oberdorf, who radiated the same clear-eyed courage that shone from pictures of her father in the early sixties-before Charles joined the opposition in celebrating his own defeat. Willy had inherited her mother’s grace, and given it structure and purpose. Together she and Eric could rewrite history, which may have been what children were for ‘
Willy rang her dad to inform him about her plan to marry Eric.
“Listen. I have someone I want you to meet.”
“Another brain surgeon?”
“Yes, he’s a tennis player, Daddy,” she said impatiently. “ But with a degree from Princeton.”
“A tennis player with a degree!” he exclaimed.”You told me that was impossible.”
Willy almost hung up. ………….
Although Eric appears to have a much more supportive father who seems to beam at all  his son’s winnings even if they are not important tournaments, his dad comes across as obnoxious and to Eric, his dad is bragging about himself even when he is bragging about him. But Eric is not going to screw up his life just to rebel against his father. Shriver describes Eric.
 One of Eric’s secrets had long been that he did not admit the possibility of defeat.

Shriver’s novel narrates a melancholy story of two gifted tennis pro, the male protagonist being more self possessed than the female character and the conflicts that they each carry within themselves make their union a tough call. Willy’s lifelong dream has become her obsession and she comes across as selfish and self-absorbed. Both are  separately vying for success in the tennis world. As the title of the book indicates, it takes two for the marriage to work or break. Shriver’s novel makes me think . Since your mind tells you what to believe ,it is absolutely necessary to believe in your own abilities. Ultimately you have to figure out yourself as to who your real opponent is and what your nemesis is. 
“Fais de ta vie un rêve, et d'un rêve, une réalité.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Make your life a dream and the dream a reality. Nice quote indeed.


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