Life has a way of keeping you humble. That said, in humility is strength. Allow me to explain…
I moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles in the mid-1990s and like anyone in a new city, I spent the first few weeks making new friends and establishing a new routine. Having always been active in sports, I joined a number of pickup soccer games (which incidentally helped me brush up on my Spanish) and decided to try my hand at tennis.
Tennis took a distant third to soccer, surfing and rollerblading during my years in Southern California, so it had been some time since I had set foot on a tennis court. Never one to shrink from a challenge, I had my racket restrung, bought some tennis shoes and headed for the nearest ALTA try outs.
If you’ve spent any time in Atlanta, you might have seen the ubiquitous tennis ball magnets on minivans and SUVs. Atlantans are crazy about tennis. They take tennis seriously, yet manage to have a lot of fun doing it.
At any rate, I tried out for one of the intermediate levels and thought I did pretty well in my matches, despite the years of rust. The fellow I played beat me, but not by much (despite his left-handedness!). I had to wait a bit for confirmation of my placement, and it was on that warm spring day, while sitting at a court-side picnic table that I had one of my most quietly humbling sporting moments.
The same fellow I played was trying out two levels up, with his right hand! I was floored, but impressed by the fellow who treated me so kindly on the court. And as with every humbling experience I’ve ever had, I left smiling inwardly despite feeling awkward on the surface.
I once heard it said something to the effect that “pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven will grow in you.” If that is the case, then something died in me that day and something even better took root.