I have had so many thoughts this past week after being riveted by the fierce athletes who competed in the semi-finals and final at Wimbledon 2018. I could write about sports and the inspiring role they play in my life. I could dive into the ways witnessing this level of competition sparks the creator, athlete, and spiritual warrior in me and helps me to connect to my own true essence.
But what has me thinking deeply at the moment is the discussion many of us are having these days around form and formlessness; around non-duality; and around living in spirit and simultaneously playing with the tangible stuff of life.
During the final days of Wimbledon, I heard comments from ESPN talking heads, the likes of which I never before experienced. They discussed the mind-body-spirit readiness of the players. They talked about tennis as a mental game and how the body follows the level of spiritual preparedness. Wow. I don’t think they were talking like that five years ago.
When we discuss form and formlessness, I often feel that we give the former a bad rap. It’s easy to roll our eyes at it, as though it’s simplistic and shallow and representative of egotistical materialism. Many of us seem intent on avoiding form, as we raise our gaze to what we believe are the more elevated complexities of formlessness and spirituality.
I admit, as much of a seeker of non-dualistic truth as I am, I have always loved the form of elegance, tradition, and excellence, the likes of which Wimbledon exemplifies. I remember being a kid and sitting entranced in front of the TV for hours as Boris Becker, the then strapping red-haired German, played in his first Wimbledon final. Perhaps I was a tennis player in another life, who knows? Or maybe my fascination stems from somewhere deep in my DNA. Recent testing from 23-and-Me reveals that most of my genetic make-up originated from the United Kingdom. I’ve always been an Anglophile. And I’m hardly alone in having at least a passing fascination with Meghan Markle and the ever-impressive Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who in the Wimbledon stands, were unabashedly gorgeous. This is the pretty, fun, and for most of us, the fairytale stuff of life.
As all of these ideas and thoughts swirled through my head, they eventually coalesced into a synchronistic theme when I watched Novak Djokovic battle to win Sunday’s final against Kevin Anderson. Here is where the inspiring dance between form and formlessness became clear.
In form, Djokovic is nothing less than awesome. He is a handsome, Adonis-like figure, who is as beautifully spoken as he is a skilled and warrior-like athlete. Djokovic, whom I heard interviewed months ago, truly represents how to live in non-duality.
When interviewed after his win on Sunday, he spoke fairly openly about the difficulties he’s experienced these past two years. From major injuries to surgery to staying off the court for six months to doubting his own ability to return to world-class rank, he was vulnerable and truthful. And what did he say about this? He said, “You have to trust the process. You have to let life arrange things around you.” Here is a man who in form just achieved one of the greatest wins in his sport, and he’s emphasizing “the process.” Stunning.
He then went on to talk about how moved he was to have his young son in the stands, watching as he received his trophy. He talked about how for the past couple of years, his son inspired him and that how hoping to share this moment at Wimbledon with his boy encouraged him to play as hard as he did. This is what this warrior said about his child: “My son can teach me; he is my little master. He can teach me how to move on, how to forgive, and how to live.”
To me, this is the dance between form and formlessness. This is the elegance and inspiration of non-duality. We must live consciously, always mindful, always seeking, and always open to truth and authenticity. We must be willing to allow suffering to ebb and flow, but never to permanently pull us into victimhood. With this insightful conscious, we too can become warriors and powerful manifestors in our own lives.
We can love and play with and yet remain ultimately detached from form. We can enjoy the wonders that are our children, while understanding that they are here to teach us as much as we are here to help shepherd and encourage them.
Thank you, Novak, for being a spark of inspiration to so many of us seekers, both on the sporting battlefield as well as in the spiritual playground that is everyday life and consciousness.