Gan’s Inner Game of Tennis

I am currently reading W. Timothy Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance, a book that my coach Ben Wach recommended to me in light of the anxiety I’ve been having about racing. Among the many aspects of this book that stood out to me, one part reminded me of our INTD class. Gallwey quoted the “very wise person” that had once told him that there are three types of people who respond to obstacles in different ways, the third of which “tries to find a viewpoint where what is on the other side of the obstacle can be seen. Then, only if the reward is worth the effort, does he attempt to overcome the obstacle.” (page 123)

The description that Gallwey included for this type of person stood out to me because it made me realize that we all go through this process everyday. I decide to go to practice everyday because I feel that the rewards of being a runner are worth the obstacles. Furthermore, I go through this process in deciding almost anything. Decisions are made with an end-goal in mind, and every end-goal features obstacles along the way. So when we pursue something as small as getting a meal to eat, or something as intense as running a race, we are peeking around the obstacles to see what the reward looks like, and then deciding that the meal or finish line is worth the difficulties. After making that decision, we being the journey of overcoming those obstacles between us.

This relates to my “Bloodchild” essay because I am discussing how and why Octavia Butler’s short story tells college students to question their circumstances in order to decide if the risks are worth the rewards. Gan went through this process on a larger, more intense scale than we experience everyday, but it is still the same process. Gan initially agreed to be T’Gatoi’s surrogate before even realizing that there was a mountain of obstacles in front of him, which included the risk of experiencing physical and mental damage. When he finally saw these obstacles, his first reaction was that of what Gallwey’s wise friend described as the “first type of person,” being the one who is fearful and overwhelmed by the obstacles and therefore doesn’t even attempt to overcome them (page 123). After some time, a mental breakdown, and some reconsideration, Gan became the “third type of person,” and determined that he would attempt to overcome the obstacles and face the risks of being T’Gatoi’s surrogate, because the rewards of being close to her, having a home, and feeling loved were worth it to him.

In our class, we explore the risks and rewards that exists in academic partnerships, and I am realizing that risks and rewards exist in everything we do. Every day we subconsciously decide that yes, the obstacles and risks of our actions are worth the rewards. Just as athletes do and just as Gan does, we regularly overcome obstacles in front of us because we are deciding that the reward is worth it.


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