|Mason Bay, Stewart Island, New Zealand|
Photo shot by Paul Cook
Although I have a lot to say on what's happened on the court front, I want to focus in this article about my insights and lessons on this dark winter.
I told a friend of mine, who took me out for a cigar and a whiskey (after it was all over), that I believe I managed my stress best this winter. It wasn't that I had any less of it, but I had somehow learned better to bring peace and light into my mind and soul during a time of bleakness and darkness. It wasn't easy.
But every warrior, fighter, and commander at war needs to learn how to be at peace in in him or herself to truly win a war. I've been reminded of this by rereading Sun Tzu's The Art of War.
One principle that made me pause and think was this one: "The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand."
And what is this temple? The temple is in the mind and spirit.
Knowing that; how is your temple? Is it clear? It is polluted? Is it clean? Is it at peace? Does it have love and wisdom? Or does it have hatred and recklessness? Does it have worry and anxiety?
Those are the questions I had to wrestle with this winter. Those are the values I had to guard and constantly guard in my heart and mind.
It helped greatly to have loving friends and family during this time who provided support. I don't think they'll know how much their support means and meant to me.
But in the end, the strong and wise fighter has to find it in himself to confront his own vices and darknesses and vanquish or restrain them. It is not a one-time process. It continues again in a cycle that mirrors a spiral with different levels, complexities, and dimensions.
No wonder why the Scriptures say: "My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4 GNT)
In short, the passage means to suffer and suffer well, and we know we can suffer well because we have a peace and strength that endures and guards against all.
But now that the winter has gone, and the spring is here, I believe the spring will bring hope and the renewal of a new spirit. As the great neoclassicist writer, Alexander Pope said: "Hope springs eternal in the human breast . . . Rests and expatiates in a life to come."