What The Australian Open Taught Me About The Hustle
I watched the Australian Open final last night. Yup, every single set of it. Yes, until 2am. The chocolate that was on offer at my aunty’s house definitely helped to keep those pesky eyelids peeled open.
If you keep up with the play, you’ll understand that a Federer v Nadal final ain’t something to be ignored – and I wasn’t about to offend anybody by feigning nonchalance.
As I sat there watching the games and sets feeling slightly sorry for myself with my leg cast in view, I was totally ataken back by the display of athletic brilliance. As an ex springboard diver, I’ve always been interested in the physics and mechanics of sport, but since snapping my Achilles, my level of interest has taken on a whole ‘nother realm.
You know those rides that used to be at Te Papa? The ones where the seats would move as you went on a visual journey through ancient or future NZ? The rides that cost about 20 bucks which seemed real expensive as a kid in the 90’s? As I was watching the match unfold, I felt like I was in the virtual tennis equivalent of the Blast Back, only in what I was seeing and feeling was the internal dialogue of someone’s brain.
It has taken a lot to get here. Years of training. There’s a lot at stake, and I know if I am going to have a chance, I’ll have to block it all out, play point by point, game by game.
I walk out, acknowledge the crowd, see my wife, my children, my coach, the umpire, the linesmen, the ball kids.. Is it me, or is this arena bigger and brighter than last time? Ah geez, I should have brought my sunglasses.
Ok, focus Fed, there’s a sweat band on your head that’s white, if it really is too bright you can just pull that down over your eyes and the glare will be gone.
There’s Nadal. He looks fit, and.. Is he wearing the same coloured shoes as me? That as*hole. He knew I chose them ‘specially! The bright coral provides a flash of excitement amongst all the black and white I’m wearing, and means I won’t ever not know where my feet are placed because of the high visibility factor.
Unbelievable. If that’s a way to psych me out, Nadal has succeeded. But only momentarily, because chill.
Chill. It’s out of your control.
I know that my fitness, agility, and strength are at an all time high. My coach, support team, family are all here rooting for me. I’m dripping in Nike gear which means I kind of rule. All I have to do now is soak it all in, get in the zone and play like I know I can.
That’s what I reckon he was thinking.
Federer, if you read this, can you let me know if I nailed it? Congrats by the way.
Federer played an incredible game. And as I listened to him deliver his winning speech, I realized how small a window we ever actually see into a professional sportsperson’s life.
For us watching, that was a long game. 3 and a half hours. For the players, to keep up that level of stamina, both mental and physical, is insane.
But think about the years of work that go into a performance like that. Think about getting up every day to practise, even when you least want to. Think about having no crowd of spectators to validate your passion until you reach a certain level. Think about then having to maintain that level by keeping up with the competition, by getting innovative, by pushing yourself harder and discovering new limits.. Think about the first day those players picked up a racket, and try to create a trajectory which ends at last night’s match.
It seems impossible to break down, doesn’t it?
It got me thinking, naturally, about the Hustle. See, we can see our lives with all the glitter and shine, and whether that glitter and shine is literal or metaphorical, we know what it is our heart desires. We can see our envisioned life ever looming. At times if feels close, at others impossible, but at the end of the day, know what we want. We know what we can accomplish. We know what our spirit truly yearns for.
But before the glitter and shine comes the hard work. The grit. The determination. The pain. The embarrassment. The learnings. The shame. The questions. The day one.
And after the day one comes the hard work. The determination. The pain. The embarrassment. The shame. The questions. The day two.
And after day two comes the third day when we’ve made it and we have no worries and there’s no more hard work and everything is literally perfect.
Even though I can’t physically play tennis right now, last night’s match taught me a lot. It made me realize that I need to re-remind myself what my tennis is. What is it that I want so badly. What is it that I’m willing to work for, suffer for, make sacrifices for. And why it is I am doing what I am.
And right now, while I am physically slowed down, it’s the perfect time to take it all back to basics. To remind myself of who I am, what it is I want and why it is I want it.
Because at the end of the day.. Whether it’s day three or day 1,976.. I am going to win the Grand Slam of my life.
You feel me?