When I did a bit of squash coaching in another life, I always reminded the players that the hardest thing to do is to maintain concentration on the moment and the first thing you lose when you become tired is that same concentration.
The secret in a game of squash is to relax back on your heels and rest, even for a few seconds when the ball is not in play and be alert for the next ball. Nothing to be gained from being tensed up when you don’t have to be at that particular moment; so relax and then concentrate on the next play and only think of the rally you are playing.
Living life is no different in many ways from playing a game of squash – or football for that matter. You give it your best when the ball is running for you, but when the play is away from your end, you need to learn to relax mind and body so that you have the full power of fresh concentration to bring to bear on your next move.
In the game of life, you need to be able to leave down your burden for a short respite and only pick it up again when it has to be carried.
We all tend to worry too much about what might happen in the future. This automatically puts us on our toes, crouched, tensed up and concentrating on some battle that we envisage around the next corner.
A man or woman carrying tomorrow’s burden is a tired player today, and similar to a squash game, fatigue will affect your concentration of the moment. It is not the problems of today that are doing the most harm; it is the fear of tomorrow: So as the old people around here used say. ‘It is better to only bite off what you can chew.’
If you carry your entire burden with you every day, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, you won’t be able to manage it. When I was given the job by a [misguided!] editor of submitting a weekly column and had he told me then that it would entail writing over a thousand different articles from then until now, I would have inevitably turned it down and said I wouldn’t be able to come up with that: But by only biting into one column at a time, that is how it turned out.
You go shopping and come away with a few bags of groceries The person with you says, ‘let me help you with that’, but your reply is, ‘not at all, it isn’t heavy’. And you are right, the absolute weight doesn’t matter and you can carry it without any effort.
Five minutes and still no bother, but if you have to carry the bags for an hour there’s an ache in your arm and the bag feels a ton weight. Carry it all day – and tomorrow you won’t be able to lift a cup with the pain in your shoulder.
This is how it is with the burden-bag of life we carry around in our head. Sooner or later the weight will become too much to carry for too long at a time. The secret is to leave down the bag until you have to move it again. Relax and rest the mind. Go back on your heels and don’t worry about any ball until it has to be played.
During these horrendous days we are currently living through, it is vital to leave tomorrow’s burden down and forget about snatching at it too soon. Remember it is the second mouse that gets the cheese because number one rushed in too soon.
In sport, players have good games, where they are ‘up for it’ and off-days when the ball just won’t run for them and they can do nothing right. The game of life is just like any other contest where you can be ‘on a roll’, or ‘not able to hit a ball’ – so pick your good days to deal with the heavy tackle.
Life deals all of us those different days. Some days you are the madra and some days you are the lamp post. Be patient, stay safe and one day soon the ball will hop right for you again.