Today’s play or competition was up to speed, more than. We played well along the jagged contour of our respective capacities, which, though different in their specificities, approximately equal out to the same probabilities of success or defeat. These latter two on a day of good, convergent, diametric play, loose precipitously in value. A win no longer has to stand as the sole raison de jouer, the placeholder on the opposite end of a balance, across from how-could-I-?. A win no longer has to fulfill its compensatory function, its dissimulation of being something in itself satisfactory. The “I” in win must not be confused with the one in will, nor must such word-parsing be imagined to yield any worthwhile insights.
Today’s competition was good, was well-executed excitement, effort to get to the relevant coordinates at the right time. The shot-angles were steep and unlikely, the choreography of rallies at each body’s respective maximum maneuverability. The racket heads looped quickly through the apposite motions. Not nearly always but often, more than on an average day. Shots were returned that are seldom retrieved, that probably have never been gotten to before; an improbable comeback was turned away at the last moment. The competition was hard fought and exhausting but no dark clouds of frustration boiled up to break in black rain as they will so easily on a day of shitty kinetics and stuttering willpower. The fresh shuttles flew well on tiresome parabolas. The smashes were steeped in acuity. Shots found the line with uncharacteristic frequency. Those were three good matches.
Although of course all skill is relative and a more advanced player would have dispatched of either of us without breaking a sweat. Sent him there, sent me here, smiled at our foolhardy efforts. But we, we went head-to-head, didn’t gift each other so much as an inch.
At certain moments the white, plastic shuttlecock hung in the air, first tumbling and then realigning with the vector of its velocity. Up and down, forth & back diagonally, down the line, as they say. Mustn’t let it touch down on the court unless… there’s the line, there’s the shuttle, there’s the line, there’s the shuttle, hmmmm, the line, the shuttle, line, I should… damnit. 19 all.
In badminton when you get out of your teens it means you’re one count from success, somnolent success. Then, as in a senseless ancient myth, one reverts to symmetrical nullity what tennis perversely calls love. For the love of play.
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