It Might be the Tennis

So I was complaining about my back to my friends Dash and Sunshine at coffee the other day. Sunshine pulled out her phone to check some app, probably Louise Hay. She said, “Which part of your back?” Me: “Lower back.” Sunshine: “It says lower back issues relate to ‘Fear of abandonment; chronic avoidance of dealing with painful issues. Living a lie.’” “Shit,” I said, and sipped more coffee. Dash kind of half-laughed, half-gagged on his drink and said, “Yeah and it might be the tennis.” I admitted that I had been playing quite a bit more tennis than in the last thirty years, like 99.9% more.

And it’s true that the last few weeks I’ve been relying on tennis as a mood stabilizer/ brain-helper. So while normally I limit myself to every other day specifically to avoid injury, I’ve made exceptions to that rule and perhaps, just perhaps, allowed myself to overdo it.

So yeah, there’s been more tennis, and it might be the tennis. But it also might be stress, anxiety, somaticizing of something else. And it might be my mattress, my hormones, my desk chair, my fear of summer schedule changes, my new high heels that I’ve worn a few times now. It might be my weight. It might be all kinds of things. It might be that I have a body, that’s human, and a certain age and mileage.

An orthopaedic surgeon once said to me, many many years ago when I had a knee injury, “Don’t worry about it, just do whatever you need to do and if it hurts, don’t do that thing so much.” He pointed out that animals in the wild lose entire legs and still “have fun running around, they don’t worry about it.”

My friend Sugar who was a professional river rafter for a while puts it like this: “If you’re going down a river and there are rocks on both sides, don’t look at the rocks. Focus on the rivulet that runs through. Wherever you focus, that’s where you’re going.” So I’ve got that nugget to chew.

And then I come back to my truth, which is that Louise Hay and her ilk may have something. That when my mood is better my body hurts less. Period. It’s true that the externals, the tennis, the mattress, the rivulets, the wild animal amputees, all that has impact.

And it’s also true that strengthening my emotional well-being, taking care of myself with sleep, food, meditation, reasonable exercise, honesty about my fears, hopes, fears, gives a certain buoyancy where all that other stuff is much less significant. So for me it’s both. And blowing it off, refusing to look at my emotional “rocks” on the riverbed, is not going to help my back. And so will playing a little less tennis. Play Ball!