Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I played left handed ping pong while wearing glasses

Never Done: I played left handed ping pong while wearing glasses

I almost did two long-standing Never Done activities, but neither worked out. In the morning I didn't go to the hospital. Instead I stayed home to get very focused work done until it was time to move the car. When it was time to move the car, I decided to drive it down to Avenue J in Brooklyn to redeem a Groupon at The Pickle Guys, where I bought enough new pickles and horseradish pickles to last months. Then, I thought to myself, I am so close to Di Fara Pizza and it is never open when I go. This is my chance. I can dash over for a slice, and then bring the car back and get to the hospital. So I drove down Avenue J, and found a parking spot on the street, and walked up to Di Fara, and it was just like a bad dream that repeats again and again and again. Di Fara was closed. It is closed on Monday and Tuesday. This was the third time I'd gone on a Monday or a Tuesday, and the third time I'd been thwarted. You'd think I'd learn.

Once my Never Done appetite was whet for the day, I started thinking of other things I could do, and it occurred to me that since I was spending so much time on the Upper Far East Side, that I should ride the Roosevelt Island Tramway. It would be quick, it would be exciting, and it's something that's been on my list all year long. And I've been in the neighborhood every day for a week. A no-brainer! But the hospital had other plans for me; they were going to let Josh out. So I hunkered down with my laptop and finished up all the work I needed to get done before leaving on vacation, interspersed with conversations with interns, residents, fellows, nurses, and social workers. It did make me laugh to notice that after hope hope hoping that he would get out soon, that a little part of me was disappointed that my tramway ride was getting messed up. Luckily I tucked that little part of myself away pretty quickly (and only brought it out now for all to see.)

When we got home, Josh was antsy. Understandable after a week inside. He has a PICC line in his right arm but other than lifting heavy things or playing tennis with that arm, he's just fine, so I suggested we go to the gym and play a game of left-handed ping pong. He was totally up for it. On the way over, I realized 1) I had not brought my glasses case and that 2) I had never played ping pong with glasses. (I've grown more sensitive to putting my glasses in a case when not using them because only 4 months after getting them, I scratched both lenses and had to have them replaced.) But right away I knew it was an opportunity to do a world-record-style Never Done activity. First time playing left-handed ping pong while wearing glasses. (Josh did me one better, and played me while talking on the cell phone. Sorry the photo is so blurry -- it's an action shot.)

Here's what we discovered about playing lefty. While our shots lacked the blazing power (ha) of our regular right-handed game, the volleys lasted longer than usual, and the game was both fun and focused. I spent my childhood discovering this -- I would bounce things lefty, bounce things while balancing on a giant rolling cardboard tube, juggle things while balancing on a giant rolling cardboard tube, bounce balls on the edge of a raquet instead of the strung face of the raquet, shoot left-handed layups, etc. What happens, of course, when you break out of your comfort zone, is that you have to apply a new level of focus to a normally mundane activity, and it allows you to lift a veil and see all the elements of the activity. I wrote not long ago about approaching life with Beginner's Mind, and on this last day before the start of the new year (leshone toyve everyone!) I want to encourage all of us to try to do this more often -- by choice -- so that when we have to do it by necessity, we already have the strong and flexible Never Done muscles we need.

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