I started playing Table Tennis almost 15 years ago. I am not saying I practiced every day for last 15 years. I had gap of even a year or more too. But I have known the game for a very long time to know the weight of the ball and feel the curvature of the handle that we hold while playing like the back of my hand. I can’t win a national championship but I surely will give a tough fight and still learn a thing or two from the game.
Yesterday I played Table Tennis for more than 2 hours. I was playing after few months, so I was a bit out of practice. I was making a lot of effort to defeat my friends to whom I used to defeat easily earlier. I won all the matches for an hour because my mind was concentrated to win each and every match. I was playing defensive game with minimum smashes just to avoid any loss of point. I was playing and winning all the matches but I wasn’t actually enjoying the game. I only felt joy a bit at the end of every game when I won. And that sounded just fine because all that matters is winning and the happiness we get from it. I did not win any match with large margin for an hour. Those close matches were thrilling. I mean seriously breath-holding. Only time I felt relieved was when I won the match and next game started soon after. After an hour of suffocating winning I felt like I needed to take a breath and relax. I still had enough energy to play but I was suffocating inside. It was like swimming to a learner. You take one breath after every few minute.
I decided to play one last game without caring about winning. That way I had a win-win situation. If I lose, I’d go out for water or some juice. Now, my game was different. I was taking more risks. I was smashing at a little chance I got without caring about losing points. I was playing all kinds of spin moves freely that I’d never risk normally. Sure, I was losing some points but guess what, I still won. I kept winning matches regardless and with large margin and for another hour. Now the difference was I was enjoying every shot I was playing. Winning didn’t matter much now because the enjoyment I got while playing was much more than I got earlier after winning. I played few shots that I didn’t know I could play. The joy of game was so much that winning and losing didn’t matter much.
I think this theory of enjoying process more than outcome applies to every field where there’s success and failure. I wonder, what it’d be like to study in school just for the purpose of learning and not passing the exam; what it’d be like to work for the love of it without caring about salary or incentives. Take more risks just to check our ability and not to succeed or fail. To love unconditionally without expectation. To stand with truth without caring about it’s outcome.
Life is a journey.