Last week, my doubles partner in pickleball, a man I did not know, turned to me after a rousing rally and grinned, saying with good-humored sarcasm, “So–you’re not competitive, are you?”
It’s been a central theme and conflict for me since second grade when I ran full speed into a tetherball pole while looking behind me at a schoolmate I wanted to out-run.
The resulting crash didn’t knock any sense into me.
Years later–years ago, now–my then fifteen-year-old daughter dragged me to my first-ever yoga class, designed to help my neck stiffness.
We were told to stretch ourselves to our limits with hands outreaching, fingers interlaced, index fingers together, pointing upward. I eyed the form she used, lengthened myself, exposed my Achilles heel.
“Breathe with depth. Rid your lungs of all that stale oxygen. Fill yourself with fresh air, wringing your lungs like a wet washcloth,” the instructor said.
I smirked a little when we had to pant like dogs, and, as I hiked one leg, growled at my own lack of balance, worrying the bone of ineptness.
In a paired technique, my daughter pulled.
Our sweaty hands slipped apart, and I toppled backwards, an overturned turtle.
I righted myself, strained again to stretch, forgetting to breathe deeply, in a hurry to relax.
My daughter reminded me of what I now try to remember about life:
“M-o-o-m, this is not a competitive sport.”
* * * *
The photo at top shows a ceramic piece my daughter made in college, illustrating a yoga pose. She is still teaching me lessons about life.
Write about a time when competitiveness helped you–or a time when it caused you pain.
What lessons have you learned about yourself from someone close to you?