“Stillness” per Maria Popova

“Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken. Most important, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking momentdictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?” (brainpickings.org)

Rebecca Solnit on a Big Change

“On or around June 1995, human character changed again. Or rather, it began to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete, but is profound — and troubling, not least because it is hardly noted. When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the Internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago. Letters came once a day, predictably, in the hands of the postal carrier. News came in three flavors — radio, television, print — and at appointed hours. Some of us even had a newspaper delivered every morning.”

Quoted in BrainPickings.org

Thiem’s Night in Melbourne

About five years ago at Indian Wells on a practice court, my spouse, my son and I were watching a young Austrian tennis player doing some creative strength training. His coach then, Gunther Bresnick, had coached one of the strongest players ever to walk on a court, Boris Becker.

His name was Dominic Thiem. Last night in Melbourne he finished off Rafa in only four sets. They showed equal courage and speed. Nonetheless Thiem, almost coming out of his shoes hit his groundstrokes harder than Rafa.

That edge was critical because Rafa’ defensive, backhand, one hander was less effective against the greater force of shot. In addition it was harder for Rafa to run round his backhand and hit a forehand for the same reason. It is a nasty line but speed kills. It did last night killing the game of arguably the finest player to ever step on court.

Thiem’s match in a day and a half with the brilliantly playing Zverev should really be something. Youth will be served.

Kyrgios Victorios

Nick Kyrgios may have played the tennis match of his life last night. Nick’s Greek surname Kyrgios means Lord in English. He has royal blood on his maternal side. He is an artist on the court but a bundle of emotions. He entertains and frequently disappoints. Nick’s anger can get badly out of control which has cost him financially several times. His emotions have prevented a run, even to the semis, in a major tennis tournament like this, the Australian Open.

With the Melbourne crowd strongly behind their Australian hero in the exhaustion of a four hour plus, 5 set match, Nick showed us all what he has deep, deep down. Many would call what they  observed in the waning hours last night the heart of a champion.

The truest test will occur tomorrow. He must face Rafa Nadal in the round of 16, arguably the finest player who has ever played the game. On the other hand it is possible Nick is the most talented player ever. He has speed, power, court sense, a phenomenal, fluid serve and a down the line backhand that is something to behold. Rafa in his dreams couldn’t touch the smooth, powerful serve Nick brings to the court.

Rafa has at times struggled to match up with great servers on fast surfaces. He has lost three of the seven matches he’s played with Nick. Those of us who love to root for underdogs are looking forward to what could be the match of the tournament tomorrow. We are hoping for the best. At the very least, this is a fascinating matchup

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This?available on Amazon

One Fan’s Obstacle

Years ago I watched a golf tournament in Atlanta, Ga, likely the mid-70s. Now I am in my mid-70s. I am about three inches shorter than I was about 50 years ago. I think there have been two factors: The gel-like discs between my bony spinal segments have softened and 2) my mild scoliosis has worsened (an S shaped spine).

We do shrink with age. Jack Nicklaus who I saw that sunny weekend in the 70s has bemoaned his diminishing stature now having just turned 80.

However I can only recall one time my stature seriously hindered me. I went to the second golf tournament of my life about fifteen years ago. It was the Farmers Open in San Diego. I followed Tiger Woods with, of course, the largest gallery on the course. I saw nothing but the back of heads whenever he struck the ball.

If I ever attend another golf tournament I will be sure to bring a periscope.  


“What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends. You shouldn’t worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world.”

“Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.”

Paul Graham (https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/02/27/purpose-work-love/)

Gulbis Does the Unexpected in the Australian Open

Ernsts Gulbis, a Latvian tennis pro, was ATP ranked 10th in June, 2014, and is currently ranked 254th. He has managed to string together two victories following the qualifying rounds at the Australian Open. Ernests first-round match was against Auger-Aliassime, a brilliant, young, Canadian player. I don’t know that anyone expected him to win that match other than Jon Wertheim on The Tennis Channel and, perhaps, his mother.

Nonetheless, he’s been surprising people for years. He has had a surprise victory over several major players including Rodger Federer. His mother is an actress and his father is a successful investment banker in Latvia.

Gulbis is arguably the biggest character on the tour. An interview with him is like stand-up comedy. On the other hand he adds some color to the tour that makes it more interesting for the viewer. At a minimum he’s got a big game with a wonderful serve and a superb backhand. His forehand has been under suspicion for years but perhaps at 31 it’s getting better. Keep it happening Ernsts!

Coco Gauff Gets It Done in Australia

The tennis match was close. She was spraying her forehand in the first set. Then she shut it down in the second. She fell a break down in the third and by the time it finished she was a break up.

Why is it so much fun to watch her play? First, no 15 year old should be playing that well. Second, she’s a real sweetheart as her interviews demonstrate. Thirdly it’s nearly always exciting, because, usually, this 15 year old is trying to beat a veteran player, which, almost always makes it uphill.

The woman she played last night was a veteran in her late 20s. When it was all on the line in the last set, Coco was nearly flawless.

She has speed, power, court sense, but, most importantly, a very big HEART.

Bonding and Solitude

“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other. For, if it lies in the nature of indifference and of the crowd to recognize no solitude, then love and friendship are there for the purpose of continually providing the opportunity for solitude. And only those are the true sharings which rhythmically interrupt periods of deep isolation.”

Rainer Maria Rilke