I was up at 3am last weekend watching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open final. Far better writers have written plenty about that game. So, I don’t think I’d be able to add much. However, sometime during the fifth set, I was thinking about the idea of enduring awesomeness.
Even as a kid, I was a casual tennis watcher. Like everyone else, I used to tune in to watch Sampras v Agassi at the turn of the century. But, watching Roger Federer was always something else. I remember watching his progression at Wimbledon 2003 as a pony tailed youngster and his first grand slam win against Mark Phillippousis. That was the start of something really special.
And, 14 years later, here we are. He’s older now and has had to adapt his game to suit his age. So, there are more high risk shots as he tries to keep rallies short. His backhand “weakness” (it’s all relative) has become a weapon. Against all odds, he’s still out there winning grand slams and showing us how its done.
There’s something incredibly inspiring about enduring awesomeness – the key word being “enduring.” We can pull off great work every once a while. But, to do it day in and day out over a long period of time – that’s something else.
My new year theme is engagement. I aspire to be engaged and conscious every waking minute – paying attention as I try things, conscious as I stumble and make mistakes, and engaged in creative, constructive and corrective responses to them. I’ve come to realize that it is this depth of engagement that characterizes fulfilling lives.
A friend, who was also watching the Federer Nadal final, suggested that Federer might retire after this. I disagreed. I felt he was enjoying himself too much to retire. Yes, the unforced errors were piling up. And, yes, his legs didn’t cooperate the way they used to. But, he just seemed 100% engaged, focused and determined to continue to learn, adapt and push himself. His head didn’t drop when he started the final set on the back foot. He had decided to fight. And, what a fight it was.
Deep engagement in one’s craft is a sight to behold. And, in his case, it is his consistent engagement over the past three decades in his craft that contributes to his enduring awesomeness.
I find that very inspiring.