He’s out there on the tennis court, only right now the court is empty. Its floor is scattered with leaves, and a light drizzle is falling. Yet still he’s out there, doing what he’s done nearly every day since summer.
I’m standing here with my warm coffee, watching out my back window, wondering who he is, what’s his story, what’s the connection in this scene I’ve watched play out over the last few months.
It started in summer, when the days were long and warm, without a single drop of rain. I’d take my daughter to the park next door, and he’d be there, practicing. Of all things, learning to ride a unicycle. A unicycle, at his age – the man has to be upwards of 40 years old at least. And he’s out there, every single day, training. I watched him in the summer, and the sight brought a smile to my face, to see an older man attempt something so difficult, something you wouldn’t normally peg for the older generation.
But as the weeks passed, my appreciation and amusement turned to admiration and a slight awe. I would watch him on that tennis court, grasping the fence as he stabilized himself on that one-wheeled bike, managing a few wobbly revolutions of the wheel before tumbling, catching himself as he fell against the fence. And he’d get back up, and try it again, until he was doing circles around the court.
A few days ago, I saw him riding the path that encircles the park. And today, he’s out there again, braving this blustery weather, in the wind and the rain, and he’s trying again.
I wonder what he’s training for, what drives him so hard to learn this one skill, this skill so unique that it has little practical use beyond the fun of doing it. I mean, sure, there’s physical therapy, muscle control, improving your balance – but there are other ways of doing that, easier ways, things that don’t require you to be out in the wet and the cold. Why this particular activity? And why this drive to keep at it?
Further, why can’t we all have that same level of determination and perseverance?