Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Pride Cometh Before A Fall

I’ve been trying to work out why my enthusiasm for croquet waned so badly this season.  Ever since I came back to NZ last October I’ve played badly and had a pretty horrid time.  Last year I was looking at a handicap of 1 (in Golf Croquet) and recently I’ve been in danger of falling back to a 4.  I am currently 3.  OK I accept that that’s not a matter of great interest to anyone but me.  However it IS a matter of considerable interest to me.  At the start of this season I had about 8 pieces of silverware attesting to my play from last season together with several other odd tournament wins under my belt. 

Until yesterday I was looking at the possibility of a very lean season indeed.  In fact I still am although Jayne and I have a doubles win in Whakatane to our credit.  The visible reminders of the wins is not, however, what interests me.  Not even winning interests me for it’s own sake.  What interests me is the fact that they are a barometer of how I have performed.  And that matters to me.  With apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson  some would say that “ ‘Tis better to have played and lost than never to have played at all.”  But, in my books, that applies only if I have played well!!!!

So this year since my exceptionally poor performance at New Plymouth when I had just arrived back from Scotland I have been out of sorts with myself over croquet.  Consequently (perhaps?) I have been a bit out of sorts with myself in general.  Leastways I am now assuming that to be the reason.

It occurred to me on Sunday night that perhaps I had become too proud of my achievements over the last couple of years since I have been playing my new-found love.  Perhaps I had to learn that I was not so good after all.  Perhaps that is to be part of my karmic learning in this life.  So I came to terms with myself and accepted that if I was to become a 4 handicap then so be it.  I would cease to feel aggrieved with myself.  After all in the greater scheme of things it is a pretty unimportant matter.

So yesterday when I was asked to play an Association match with someone whom I dislike playing (because of the sort of defensive game she plays) I agreed notwithstanding my lack of preparedness for Association Croquet not having played a game for a while.

I set out to enjoy it whatever happened.  I played a defensive game too (well most of the time) which is alien to my way of playing.  I played well given my level of ability in that discipline.  After the first 20 minutes (the game was timed for three hours) I fell behind and remained behind until the last few minutes when I managed to creep two hoops in front to win the game.  What was significant was not the win but the fact that, instead of my usual feeling of frustration and dissatisfaction with myself as I fell behind, I was calm and accepting.  Perhaps that was why I played as well as I could possibly have wished to play in the circumstances.

Perhaps that is why when I played Golf Croquet this morning I played a relaxed and enjoyable and very good couple of games.  Perhaps that is why I am now looking forward to finishing the many club handicap games that I still have left to play in the 29 days I have left before I return to Scotland.

Perhaps that is why, today, I am happier with myself than I have been for quite a while.  

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

I Went To Church Today

I decided to have a ‘quiet time’ when I was in Napier this morning.  I have never been in a church in Napier except for a funeral.  Unfortunately one can’t just take refuge from the hectic, noisy world in most churches these days:  they are locked against the vandals.  To be frank the denomination of the church was not a consideration but it occurred to me that The (Anglican) Cathedral would at least be open to the public.  It was.  As I walked in there were some people chatting by the door so I side-stepped them and went down the church and sat down with my thoughts.  After a while the Guide (for that is what one of the three was) came and chatted to me, gave me a pamphlet about the church and said I was welcome to take photos of anything except the paintings of the stations of the cross (which were the last paintings on the face of the earth I would have wanted to photograph – I can understand why the artist refused permission!).  The Guide assumed I was a tourist and carried on in appropriate vein until I told him that I was, in fact, just a person who lived here who wanted to sit quietly.  By then my train of thought was broken so I decided to be a tourist and the results will appear on A Hebridean in New Zealand.

Whether one has faith or not I would certainly suggest that churches generally have a peacefulness which is conducive to thought and I have had some moments in churches which have been exceptionally spiritual and moving.  In fact I’m sure I have blogged about my experience in Rheims Cathedral.  Yes, I did, briefly.  On Eagleton Notes in Death in Victory.

So I never really had my ‘quiet time’.  But, hey, there’ll be more opportunities.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Sadness Strikes Again

It’s happened again.  And very unexpectedly.  This morning I had a very happy time.  Wendy came down early on to say goodbye to their friends who have been sleeping in my spare bedroom. We’d had a great evening yesterday but had all been to bed at a reasonable time!  I went to croquet.  We had a couple of new people and, as the weather was poor, only about 16 turned up to play. I played with each of the new ones as a partner in turn.  I think we will have two good new members.  I was delighted because I played very well and just felt like I did at the end of last season. That’s been rare this last few months.  Then I met Wendy in town for coffee and a chat and a wander round a few shops I would not usually have gone into.  All in all a lovely relaxing morning.

Then as I was driving out of town an old lady was standing at the kerbside.  I would guess that she was in her late 80s.  She was dressed in a way that told me she was comfortably off and well able to take care of herself.  However as I drove past I saw in her face a look that I have still been unable to find the words for.  Unfortunately because of my inability to hold images in my head I cannot actually recall what she looked like.  However I got an overall impression of bewilderment or something which immediately created a huge sadness in my heart.  The feeling she engendered and the sadness have refused to leave me all afternoon and now that it’s evening the memory is still haunting me. 

I re-read my last posting and in this case I did not know the person, nor have I any reason to feel sad for her or on her account.  But I do.  I cannot help it.  I watch the ills of the world on television every day.  I might feel sorry for those affected by disasters and war.  I might give a donation (although I am fully aware that it is but a miniscule drop in the ocean and will have little effect) but I never feel this sadness.  If I did I would be a miserable person.  And I’m not.  I’m generally a very happy person. 

But this one lady who looked so bewildered (was she bewildered?) has made me feel sad in a way that I cannot understand.

As I said last time I feel so totally useless and unable to help.  I still don't like that.