“There is a point in tennis, when I thrust aside as irrelevant all thoughts of point and games and sets, and am absorbed instead in the sheer and savage delight of swinging at a moving target.”
- Mark Rowlands, Tennis with Plato
Sheer and Savage Series
Obviously, there's a lot of people I left out of this series. So many of our great players through the years at Bethany Christian have displayed their joy in sheer and savage ways. I simply tried to give good examples that work toward the point I am trying to make. And that point is two-fold (hint... look for the capital letters).
First of all, if you want to be a successful player and have a successful team, a team that is truly full of joy then . . .
YOU MUST HAVE A BALANCE OF SHEER AND SAVAGE JOY.
It's not an option to have a team that falls dramatically on one side of the scale or the other. If you have a collection of players that are all unbridled and untamed and ferocious, the team will most likely be mean and angry. If you collect a bunch of pure and goofy guys, you'll laugh a lot and win a little. When unbalanced, players find themselves having explosions or completely lost their ability to focus.
So, it becomes obvious then that the full joy is when we are "absorbed. . . in the sheer AND savage delight of swinging at a moving target." They can't be separated. And yet . . . we each naturally gravitate to one extreme or the other. That's how it is in most of life right? We tend to slide toward the extremes all the while we need balance. Sol recognized this in my eating habits this summer during camp, noting that I tend to be obsessed with being healthy or I am completely unhealthy. All salads or all ice cream, depending on the summer. And so it is with these tendencies of joy and emotion. How can we get them balanced?
Well, we'll just make ourselves do it, right? If we tend to be savage and untamed, well, then when we hit the ball out during matches we'll just stop and think and smile! We'll simply convince ourselves right now that we just have to feel differently. We'll make ourselves do it, because we have to. Or not. Because you can't "find" balance, or "make" it, or "convince yourself to just do it."
Instead, YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT.
The key thing here is that we are a team. The group of guys around us is what will help us create sheer and savage joy. They are God's gift to us for the season. Read back through the sheer and savage series. Each of those stories were stories of balance that happened when teammates GAVE their natural tendencies to each other.
Joel King's competitiveness drew the work ethic out of Michael. Michael's goofiness made tennis fun. Daniel's carefree attitude gave confidence to Mikey's intensity. Kyle's untamed challenge of Seth brought accountability to the team. Joel and Hans both played as themselves and brought balance to their doubles matches.
God has given you the gift of your personality, your unique type of joy. Give that gift to our team. In that communal giving, everyone will be changed.
So, I can't wait to hear it all across our newly painted courts next week. Savage joy of ripping through forehands and overheads, the competitiveness of the new season, the challenge of staying focused... all in the direction of helping our teammates. "C'mon guys, let's go, let's pick it up, let's do this!"
I still have the memory of my brother's undefeated team, how they used to respond to one another on the courts. Even during matches, if one person would call out "C'mon!" there would come a cascade of calls from the other courts, each person sending back their own message of encouragement and joy. In the community of echoes, in everybody giving to each other, their was the beautiful balance.
I can't wait to hear our community get started.