I was sitting there talking to my good friend Denise about the concept of friendship: how a good one starts, how it’s maintained, and how others fizzle out, when she made a great analogy:
“It’s like a tennis match,” she said. “It goes back and forth. You lob the ball over the net, and you sort of hope that they keep the game going and lob it on back over to you.”
It really is true: friendship is a give and take. Sometimes you have to overextend yourself to reach for the ball and hit it back over the net, but you do it because your heart is in the game and you want to keep playing. You also do it because you know that the other person will eventually put themselves out there and run for your ball one day, too.
But what happens when you notice that you’ve served up several balls and lobbed them over the net, but none are coming back? After a while, you run out of balls. You have to make the choice: should I keep going, or did the other player walk off the field? Because let’s face it, playing tennis with yourself kind of…sucks.
What about those friendships where you gently lob a ball over the net – and before you have time to get into position and wait, it comes flying back at you full speed and blasts you in the boob? Or worse – what happens if you find that you are up against one of those hard-core machines that forcefully spits out ball after ball at full speed, barely giving you a chance to hit back? What do you do then (aside from throw down your racket and run?)
There are of course lots of ways to play “tennis” with friends, and everyone has their own style. Some have a power match, where they go full-speed back and forth with all their might – and it works for them. Others have a slow, quiet game that may even involve waiting weeks or months before the ball comes back, but when it does, its as if you never put your racket down in the first place. As long as you are both in the same game – and no one takes a cheap shot to the boob – it somehow works.
What are some of the “tennis matches” you’ve played in? Ever walked off the court?