Who Knows?

In the last post I talked of my former college tennis coach, David Fish. When I was in school, I, we would often lament any perceived misfortune. It got to the point that any net cord or any bad bounce had us asking “why?“ as if we were talking to Lady Luck, questioning her choices. Coach had obviously heard enough of our constant feeling of “luck not going our way” and told us a poignant story that sticks with me to this day:

There once was a farmer who needed his horse to till his fields. One morning this horse ran away, prompting his neighbors to sympathize and lament his misfortune. The farmer’s response was “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” Sometime later, the same horse returned with a herd of wild horses. His neighbors congratulated him on his good luck. The farmer’s response again was “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he was thrown from one of these horse’s back, and broke his leg. Everyone felt bad for the farmer and his son for his bad luck. Again, the farmer’s only response was “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” Several weeks later, the army came to their village and ordered for every able bodied to enlist. However upon seeing the farmer’s son and his leg in a cast, they asked that he not ‘volunteer’. Was this good luck? The story could go on endlessly.

good luck

However, the point of him telling us that story was so we would not be so short sighted as to decry every perceived instance of misfortune as ‘bad luck.’ As we learn from the story, what is deemed as ‘bad luck’ cannot be truly labeled as such. Who really knows?

I have thought much of this story since my surgery, as on the surface it may seem as if I have had ‘bad luck’. Before the surgery I was a fully functioning, tennis playing, physician-in-training, and now even traversing a small curb is treacherous. One might take one look at me and think bad luck. But my response would be “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” The reality is that none of us are fortunetellers, no one knows what the future holds, so no one truly knows how everything will turn out. Yes, maybe on my deathbed I’ll think boy that brain tumor was really bad luck, or maybe I’ll think I sure was lucky to get that brain tumor. This is not only exclusive to my situation and me, but is universal as well. Remember that the next time you think to yourself that was bad luck, and instead think bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?

Half- Full

I hate to waste your time and write about dreams I have had, but this dream was too poignant to pass up; it taught me a valuable lesson that I wanted to share with you.

As I mentioned prior, I played much tennis growing up and played on the university team for my 4 years there. I even bought costly equipment off of https://tennisracquets.com/. The coach of the team was (and is) a man by the name of David Fish; a man who was once on both the tennis and squash teams. Since my graduation in 2004, I have kept in (sporadic) touch with him, trading e-mails reminiscing about the past. I often think back to my days on the tennis team: my thoughts always go back to the camaraderie shared with my teammates and the joy that came with playing the sport. Sometimes when I think back to these ‘good ol’ days’ I cringe at my obvious immaturity, squabbling over insignificant issues like lineup placement or doubles partner choices. My thoughts then return to Coach Fish and I find myself appreciating his job in ways I had not before: not only did he have to manage the lineup to make sure the team he put forth optimized our chance of winning, but he also had to manage 12 young, immature men; all of whom wanted to play more and were only just out of high school. The reason I tell you this is so you can maybe better understand the relationship I share with Coach. I want you to understand this relationship so when I tell you of this dream you have a better context for it.

Maybe 2 weeks ago I had a dream where I was conversing with Coach. As with most dreams, there is no beginning or end, I somehow appeared with Coach (almost in mid conversation); and just how there is no segue into the conversation, it ended mid conversation when I awoke. I usually awake from my dreams and do not remember them. I do however, remember my conversation with him. Somehow, the issue of my health was brought up. I remember then telling him, “Coach, I miss running.” I then began crying, longing for the days where chasing down a drop shot[1] was simply second nature to me, where issues like running and balance did not cross my mind.  Even though this was a dream, that feeling of longing was real. I tried but I could not hold back my tears, I missed this ability so much. The cry was so strong that I found myself crying when I awoke. Tears come to my eyes now just thinking of the dream.

Drop Shot Diagram
Drop Shot Diagram

I find myself longing for the days where running and cutting was second nature to me. This comes in stark contrast to now where every step I take is an unsteady one. It has taken me almost 3 years but I now realize that the days of chasing down tennis balls are forever behind me. Although I don’t want you to think that I am surrendering or giving up, for me it is simply an ability that I once had that is now gone.

That dream made me realize though that instead of wishing and longing for these abilities, that I should be thankful for what I am still able to do. I think that, unfortunately, part of nature is to wish for things we don’t have; this could be something as straight forward as more money. But instead of wasting our time focusing on what we don’t have and want, wouldn’t our time be better spent thinking and grateful for what we do have and can do? This lesson for me was only highlighted by this dream. Because a seemingly straight forward ability was taken from me, I found myself falling into the trap of hoping and wishing for something I did not have. It took a 16-hour surgery and months of rehabilitation for me to realize this. But remember, do not waste your time desiring something you do not have, instead be grateful for what you do have. The old adage that the glass is half full and not half empty, should remind us that there is always a silver lining to whatever situation we find ourselves in.


[1] For you non tennis players, a drop shot is when either you or your opponent hits a shot purposely short and soft in hopes of catching you off guard, and having the ball bounce twice before you can get to it.