Monday, May 10, 2010

Failing Fury

Today I took up the paddle for the first time in a long nine months and it looks like the winter was not good to my skills. For me to accomplish my goal, I'll have to work hard and play hard. While I may have set a high bar for myself, I think it'll be worth it. The day will come when I'll accomplish the lucky seven victories against my brother in ping-pong.
Although this piece was written early on in the year, it does encompass my beginnings in the sport and how lost many of hours going back and forth:

Thinking back to it all, the teen center was not what mattered. In fact, I would have survived without it, albeit, with a different lifestyle, but different nonetheless. What was important about it was what it had and what its amenities provided.

The teen center was open daily and was available, as the name implies, to all teens. The place was not that big, in fact at times it would feel claustrophobic as maybe twenty or so teens would occasionally sit down to play video games with the barrage of chairs taking up much more than a little space. The space issue never became a problem as the center tended only to a high school of 150 students.

Whenever I was there, I would be able to find something to do. Amidst the Xboxes, Play Stations, computers, and TVs, there was something that stood in the middle of it all.

The ping-pong table that stood in the center of the room was nothing special at all but it was not something new. In fact, it was just there, placed there as another part of the center. I do not believe when they first bought it that it would be used more than any of the other games, especially the game consoles.

What mesmerized me was not the table but was the players. They were not anywhere near professional caliber but there was something about them that caught my eye. I noticed they were playing seriously but were much more reserved than usual.

The room around the table was pretty much tailored as to give it plenty of room for its spectators and nothing to get in the way of the game. This may not sound hard but with the low roof and clunky design of the building, it was a difficult task.

When I first was at the age where I could spend time at the center, I spent most of it watching. I did not care much to play video games, watch TV, or use the computer. All I wanted to do was to spend hours on end watching the ball bounce back and forth. For hours it did with an endless supply of competitors, the table spent barely a moment untouched and only received rest when the center closed.

After all that time I spent observing and learning the rules, I eventually picked up the paddle. Who my first opponent was or even how badly I did was not important but I felt something different. It was an escape. I have always enjoyed sports but there was never anything as simple as being able to pick up a paddle after a long day of school.

No wonder that table was the most popular thing in the center. It came to be that I was willing to spend time waiting, time I did not have, just to experience the relaxing sound of that ball bouncing back and forwards. Win or lose, I just felt great afterwards with a better outlook on life. I would feel on top of the world and that nothing would be able to take down. That table was a place to relax and allow me to relieve the stresses of daily life.

I believe that all we need to live life is something simple, something as simple as ping-pong.

What I enjoyed most about writing this "This I Believe" essay was the fact I got the freedom to write what I wanted to, speak how I wanted to speak, present to the world that this sport is a large part of me.


  1. Thanks, actually, there used to be a radio show where people would submit theres for the possibility of reading theirs live