We can't have Valentine's Day without thinking of love. And what's love without tennis? In tennis, every game begins with love. Love all!
Love all means the score is zero to zero. It is an equal, fair, and fresh place to begin every game. Players are engaged, paying attention, and ready to play. It's truly a blissful state of alertness and engagement. Love all.
As tennis reflects life, keeping a score complicates our state of being. In the pursuit of winning, the score starts to matter. Our focus shifts from enjoying our engagement through play, to the achievement of besting our opponent.
Love - 15. The desire to win or the fear of losing can occupy our focus so much that we lose our connection to the present moment. Love - 30. Tennis provides instant feedback when we are distracted. Tennis invites you into the conversation, to be present and engaged. In fact, it demands it. Love - 40. Pay attention and get into the game, 15 - 40. If you are losing, it means your opponent is winning. Winning is intoxicating. Players ride a wave of confidence, gain momentum and take the lead. But like Icarus, when that confidence turns to arrogance, our wings begin to melt, 30 - 40. Only moments ago, you were at love all, and now, you are interlocked in a battle, not against each other, but with yourself. Deuce. Your focus on winning has distracted you from your original blissful state. You have recovered and are now back on equal footing. You are engaged and paying attention once again, advantage server.
Although victory is only a point away, you are no longer distracted by an outcome. You bounce the ball, take a breath, remember your best service, now start your motion. Like a dance, both arms separate, as if reaching around a Ferris wheel, ball in one hand, racket in the other, totally in sync, connected. When the ball reaches its peak in the toss, you feel your weight ready to turn into the hit. As the ball starts its descent, you reach up and strike through the ball with all your being and commitment. Effortlessly, the ball releases from your racket toward your target, just as you imagined a moment ago. You experience the beauty of the movement and the moment, time has stopped, everything is in sync. Ace. Game. Back to love all.
Starting tennis at love is a wonderful reminder to reset and enjoy the fresh beginner's mind; to be engaged with curiosity instead of attachment and open to what is happening and what has not yet happened. The journey from love and toward achievement and attachment is fraught with fear of loss or desire for gain. But a return to love releases us from that mindset and opens us to honest, joyful play, a paradise regained.
Enjoy the game. Happy Valentine's Day. Love All.