Monday, November 30, 2009

Recovering Eeyore

A few years ago, when I’d just started playing in Laura The Tennis Pro’s Monday Clinic, we all came together after Thanksgiving Weekend and one of the Marys asked me how my Thanksgiving was. I proceeded to tell her how I don’t really like Thanksgiving, that it’s a hard, depressing holiday for me, that I wish my extended family were physically closer so we could spend it together like we did when I was a kid. Marybeth listened graciously as I went on and on and suddenly, as if someone stepped in and slapped some sense into me, I just stopped.

“I’m sorry,” I said to her. “I haven’t yet learned to just answer that question by simply saying, ‘Good, yours?”

We were all just starting to get to know each other back then. The two Marys had been in a semi-private with Laura for a while and they wanted to play in tournaments together in the summer, so Laura asked me to come be a fourth on the court so they could work on doubles strategy.

When you’re invited into an already formed group, you worry about whether the other players are going to like you, whether you’ll be asked back. This has as much to do with your playing ability as your personality. And I feared that with that Thanksgiving response of mine, I was bound to get the heave ho.

Maybe my mea culpa was sufficient, but just to be safe I spent the next several weeks trying to be positive and upbeat. A recovering Eeyore. I really loved being in this group and I was sure that, with a little mindfulness, I’d be able to answer benign, polite questions as people were expected to: benignly and politely.

The following year I spent the whole drive to the tennis club practicing what I would say if someone asked me how my Thanksgiving was. And when Marybeth asked, I delivered my line with (perhaps too big) a smile. “Good,” I said. "Yours?”

Last year, I felt an integral enough part of the group that I’d given myself permission to answer the Thanksgiving question honestly. But we had made a few changes to our yearly tradition in our house and in fact it wasn’t the grueling experience I usually dreaded. “Not bad,” I said. “Yours?”

Today I showed up at tennis eager for play, completely forgetting that Thanksgiving was only a few short days ago. We played for an hour before I even realized that no one had asked about Thanksgiving at all. Which is curious in that mysterious way the universe works. Because this year, I could have said with enthusiasm and candor, “Thanks for asking…my Thanksgiving was actually great.”

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