Edit desk: The importance of family

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Alex Woods

J.K. Rowling once said “Family is a lifejacket in the stormy sea of life.”

This quote speaks volumes to me, especially when I’m in a high-pressure situation and my work seems more important than it truly is. At times, when I’m at school, I feel like I’m living in a different world and forget that I have several “life jackets” of support back at home.

There are things in life I enjoy a lot, such as hanging out with friends, playing tennis, going to sporting events and fantasy football. However, my family is the one thing I value the most, and when I’m at home I feel like I’ve transitioned from a world of competition and pressure to one of support and love.

All three of my siblings and I were home for pacing break this year, which is a rare occurrence. We decided to take advantage of our time together and go to a nearby park to play tennis, a sport which connects us.

On our way to the court, I was watching a video my brother pulled up on his phone from a tennis tournament I competed in years ago. The video was a doctored mock scene with me appearing on one side of the court to hit the ball, then immediately re-appearing on the other side of the court to fire off a return shot. 

I remember it so well. I love competition so much, but it takes a lot out of me emotionally. So, alleviate some of my stress, my brother made the video with me competing vigorously, relentlessly… against myself.

I’m on the tennis court, with a cart full of balls. There is dead silence. I’m grim and determined, dressed in tennis whites.

On the sidelines, my sister and two brothers, all in white, and our miniature schnauzer, the outlier in grey, are all watching me. 

I reach down and take a ball from the cart. I hit a lightning-fast serve. The camera pans and there I am on the other side of the court. 

I return the ball.

Now, I’m back to the service side of the court, where I rush to the net, and thus begins a frenetic series of rapid volleys. I’m on one side of the net — then on the other — the ball never touching the ground. Back and forth, faster and faster, hit, return, hit.

The screen goes dark and the video continues as my siblings and I arrive at the tennis court.

My brothers, grinning, are now on the opposite side of the court, in colorful t-shirts, holding rackets. On my side, my sister, in red sneakers, smiles and gestures at me with her racket.

I reach down and take a ball from my dog’s mouth. I toss the ball up, serving, and I miss it completely.

We all laugh. One of us barks. So much for my competitive spirit. Now, it’s all missed shots, laughter, trash-talking, barking and drooling.

While I’m a serious tennis player who knows it’s good to take the ball from the cart, playing with my family has taught me that it’s so much better to take it from your dog’s mouth. This is the kind of mentality I love coming home to.

The video on my brother’s phone reminded me that a high-pressure, ‘stormy’ moment in my life doesn’t have to be a pressure cooker situation if I don’t allow it to be. I was quickly relaxed by the support system I have at home as I watched myself playing tennis with the three “life jackets” and the furry beast that day. 

When the video ends we arrive at the tennis court to actually start playing. I’m already primed to just relax and have fun.

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