Ashleigh Barty Serves The Winning Ace
“Ashleigh Barty retired! Oh, I can’t believe it. Did you read this news story?”
“Wise girl!” Lulu, my parrot, glanced at me and resumed nibbling at the green chilies.
“What are you talking, Lulu? It doesn’t make sense. She is the current number one in Tennis. And she is just twenty-five; she has long years ahead.”
“That’s the point, she is quitting when she is at the top.”
“But she has earned millions and would have earned several more millions. Sports stars like her earn a fortune in sponsoring products. Do you realize that she has given up huge money and fame?”
“What you say is obvious, right? What does not meet the eye is more precious.”
“Don’t talk in riddles. At twenty-five she has renounced so much. Now don’t tell me she is becoming a sanyasin and going to Himalayas.”
“She has answered for herself a very fundamental question. It is that question which several sports persons, and corporate honchos fail to answer. Political leaders have no capability to think of that question, you see…….”
“… Oh, come on Lulu. Stop going round and about. Tell me what it is.”
“The fundamental question is ‘How much is enough?’ Once you make a few millions, adding more millions do not fetch more comfort, luxury and fame. The ‘law of diminishing returns’ kicks in.”
“That’s true. But she had the potential of setting many big records. She brought glory to Australian tennis but she could have carved out a special niche for herself. I mean, I do not understand her decision.”
“The question remains – ‘How much is enough?’ She has answered it for herself. Serena Williams has won twenty-three grand slams and she is still one short of Margaret Court’s record of twenty-four grand slams! If she retires now, she will in all probability, will be haunted by her ‘one short’ title! No such pain for Ashleigh Barty.”
“I see your point. Ashleigh Barty has taken complete charge of her own life. She is not going to be pushed around by temptations and expectations.”
“You would have seen what happens to people at the top of organizations. They are unable to decide how much is enough. They stay on even though they can’t add value like the Gandhis, or come back like Ratan Tata and Narayan Murthy. We see that happening in companies where investors are at work. The thought of retiring gracefully does not occur to them.”
“And what about political leaders? They never answer that question. Sharad Pawar at one point said that he was going to retire from active politics, but he is there. Ravi Shastri retired almost on public demand!”
“Remember, when you make a choice to do something, you also impliedly decide not to do something. Possessive people do not understand it.”
“Are you saying that Ashleigh Barty decided to live a life the way she wants to and so Tennis is given up?”
“Yes. I know political leaders in US have gone back to teaching at universities….”
“…. But why should they when they are doing well?”
“It all depends on what lies in your bucket list. There are people who wish to travel, write books, sketch, paint…. The list can be long. It enriches life. When you hang your boots, you realize that time is short and the bucket list is too long to be completed.”
“You mean the unfulfilled dreams?”
“Yes. This is why relationship tops the list of regrets. People feel that they did not spend adequate time with their loved ones. ‘Quality time’, as they call it. They fail to explore their own talents fully. How many persons you know who wanted to learn music but could not, or actually did not?”
“You see them in every family.”
“Listen to any housewife who spent her days looking after family and sacrificing her desires. The regret for not taking charge of her own life is so loud, you have to be a tone-deaf person not to hear it.”
“When we work on our unfulfilled wishes, and make them happen, we enrich our life. And those could be simple ones, a friend who went to London watched a show in Globe theatre. It was her long-standing childhood dream to watch a show there – her study of Shakespeare must have created it.”
“Oh yes, Aparna mentioned it to me.”
“And your desire to visit Machu Pichu is not yet fulfilled.”
“I do not think it will be, ever. I am now too old and too weak for it.”
“You never took charge of your life, right? And the critical question ‘How much is enough?’ never crossed your mind.”
“I hate to admit this truth.”
“The question is what you want to do with your life. If you want to explore an enjoy life, then you can’t be fixated to one source of pleasure.”
“That’s the choice. Very often we live day to day and we get thrown around like a log of wood which is tossed around by waves in the sea. We do not take stock of our life.”
“We have to live life consciously. And decide what is necessary to make our life richer. Like Ashleigh Barty. Do you remember what Karl Marx said? ‘Necessity is blind until it becomes conscious. Freedom is the consciousness of necessity.’” Lulu hopped on to my laptop, and chirped “If you don’t agree, enjoy the rat race!”
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / Read more Lulu blogs in my book ‘The Lulu Duologues’. Feature Pic Courtesy Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash / Pic Barty Courtesy Free Press Journal
As long as you enjoy the rat race. – great continue- when that drops leave
If it’s never enough…one can never step off and enjoy the bucket list
It’s an individual choice. Barty may have different mindset, plans for life. She is too young and may feel later that she should have continued for longer. We do not know. Martina Hingis took early retirement when she was 29 and when she was on top with some grand slam titles. She came back few years later but was not as successful. Why she came back? She felt she left too early. The questions one may debate about retirement of Federer and Barty, Hingis are different. And that we would ask of Rahane, Pujara are different. What will ask of Amitabh Bachchan? Or Gulzar? Or Javed Akhtar? Or Swaminathan Aiyar? Or Asha Bhosale? Or Amartya Sen?
Good one Vivek. Timely and insightful. The problem for me is not about defining what is enough but , for what? Sometimes I feel that I have enough and need not drive myself more. At othertimes, I say to myself” Is that all for which you are working?” Only for yourself? Then I feel that if I wish to help others more, I need more – more resources, more people, more energy and all of that. Am I not fortunate that I have enough for myself and have the opportunity to do more for others and the community? Where do I draw the circle within which alone, I will work? Do I enlarge the circle and strive for more or do I strive for more in order to enlarge the circle? The dilemma continues
Unfortunately, most of us have tied our identity to only one kind of endeavours/ achievements. By the time some of us realise that a life outside is possible, some of us loss our zeal or even or almost resign to fate. While she will inspire many more, right now talking to a cabbie in Himachal was eye opening. He said I don’t drive after a certain time because I need to spend time with my kids. If he can make that decision, I am sure many of us are more privileged and can certainly do som
Very Nice read.
I think Barty shows a great change in perspective, not only in the field of sports but towards living life. The message being clear- life is more than winning accolades and accumulating wealth etc.
Reminds me of my Dad who at the pinnacle of his medical profession as an Anaesthesiologist retired at the age of 60. He simply wanted to pursue his passion for playing golf. He passed away last year at the age of 89 playing on the greens 24×7 for 29 years! He obviously knew when to say enough.
I believe life is short and unpredictable. If circumstances permit, one should explore the possibility of following one’s dreams and passion.
Nice read. As long as one gets satisfaction ,happiness in whatever one is doing/pursuing ,one should continue to do so (e.g Amitabh, Asha)
At the same time , one should try to fulfil bucket list of wishes as one lives only once.
Thanks for nice share