Ping pong

I had forgotten how much I love ping-pong.

Before school this morning, I attended the ping pong club’s weekly meeting for the first time and it all came rushing back to me. I love ping pong. It might seem silly to some, but ping pong is such a fun, engaging activity (sport?), especially if you are a competitive person. Which I am.

Before this morning’s meeting, I hadn’t held a paddle in six years—and that was only when I had briefly visited a PE class and a student had challenged me to a game. Prior to that, it had been much, much longer than that. Easily a decade, likely longer. But cradling and twirling the paddle in my hand as I waited on my first student-challenger, I made a mental note that I needed to play more often.

Now, even if I had embarrassed myself and lost every game I played this morning, I probably would have still thought the same thing. Thankfully, I did not embarrass myself. I was able to shake the rust off fairly quickly and surprised club members as well as students and staff entering the building from the fine arts hallway who had to pass by us. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was Christopher Walken in Balls of Fury, but I held my own. It took a few minutes for returns, spins, and slices to come back to me, and it took a few more minutes after that for me to remember that I had three different serves on which I could rely.

Feeling more confident a little while after that, I experimented with a forehand smash, but it ricocheted high off a vending machine. Undeterred, I tried a few more times when the moments presented themselves to me and was ultimately rewarded with a cathartic pop as the ball cut across the table and snapped the opposite corner. I still had my share of unforced—and forced—errors, but by 8:50, I was in a groove and looking for someone else to play. To my dismay, the tables were being folded up and put away.

Certainly we could squeeze in one more game before the first tardy bell?

I suddenly felt like a teenager trying to fit in one more round of a video game as my mom called me to dinner. Or trying to get in when more game of pick-up before my curfew—of time forcing me to finish what I was doing. If you’re not familiar with the notion of flow, it is being so immersed in an activity that you are enjoying you don’t even notice time passing or even space around you. It’s been a long time since I had experienced that.

When was the last time you have? Or your student? Or maybe not that level of absorption, but doing something that you greatly enjoyed? Or had forgotten about but discovered again recently? With so many demands on our lives—as either students, adults, and/or parents—it is easy to get bogged down by the grind, by the equally competing demands on our time, energy, and attention that we lose sight or forget how to stop and enjoy little things that bring us happiness.

I hope you find your flow this weekend. And to the ping pong club, I will see you next Friday morning.