What My Father Taught Me

Ping Pong Wall

When I was a kid, my life was pretty much like any other young runt. I ate, shat and slept. Occasionally, I would have aspirations and dreams, and these were big things, like beating my father at ping pong.

So one day, my father took me up against a wall and said, “If you really want to be good at ping pong son, first you’ve got to start against the wall.” He gave me a paddle, and a ball, and told me to stand right in front of a wall and keep hitting the ping pong against it.

I’m not going to lie to you. It sucked real bad.

The first time I tried, I could barely keep it going more than twice. Most of the workout involved me running around the house and bending down to pick up the ball. I was on the verge of giving up when my dad said, “Son, you’ve got to keep trying, or you’ll never get there. Aim for 5.”

So I sucked in my flabby belly, and paddled the ball straight at the wall for a good 40 minutes before I got to that goal. Surprisingly, I got a good 7 instead. I felt good about myself, so I went to my father and told him about it. He pet me on my sweaty head and said, “Now go for 10.”

That’s when I learned that it never ends.

But I got hooked to the climb. Each time I tried, I aimed to out-paddle myself. Eventually, I got to 12, and decided to stop for the day. The next day I started again, and got past 20. The next day, I beat 25. Pretty soon I was doing 50 easily. There came a point in time when I could do couple of hundred without thinking. And then I switched to my left hand. Finally for party tricks, I stole my dad’s paddle, grabbed another ping pong and did both hands simultaneously. It took me over a year of course, but needless to say, by then, I beat my father easily enough.

From then on, I never forgot the first lesson I learned as a little paddling runt: keep trying, or you’ll never get there.

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