Damn it! I’m still not the best.

There comes a time when the facts are clear. Today was yet another one of those times.

I am not the best.

In the old days a tennis ladder was a way to encourage us to play officially against kids we wouldn’t normally play against, and to work on our game. It was also a tactic to keep us from constantly enjoying each other’s company while lobbing balls over the fence, to irritate the golfers.

The names of anyone interested in participating were written on cardboard tags hung on metal hooks on a triangular shaped board. The original pyramid was set by drawing names at random, after which you could challenge one or two people above you to play a match. If you won, you took their spot, and everyone else under, dropped down a peg.

Most of us knew who the better players were. There was usually a big gap in skill level between the McNealus clan and anyone else, however it didn’t matter…much. We were all equal when it came to getting yelled at.

Before my sister Dee grew taller than 36 inches, I could count on challenging her, taking her place, and staying there. Those days are long gone.

I received an email the other week announcing a new ladder, a grownup ladder. I’m not very competitive. I get uncomfortable with too much seriousness, focus, aptitude, skill, determination, or dedication.

Then again, maybe I am too competitive, and a sore loser and don’t want to play anymore if I get creamed too often. I signed up (without telling my sister) and decided to investigate my reactions.

Needless to say, after two rounds I hold the place of honor at the bottom of the board.

Some say “With age, comes wisdom“. I say with age comes the maturity to say to someone, “I accept the fact that you just cleaned my clock, and I’m okay with it.”

Often we don’t put ourselves in challenging situations because we know (or assume) we will lose or look ridiculous. Sometimes we should, so someone can say, “If that bozo signed up, I should too.” We might inspire someone to step back out onto the court, enter a competition, write a book, or take a weird yoga class.

We are all the best at something. Sometimes we want others to know what that is. Sometimes we don’t know what that is ourselves. Sometimes, that something is being able to say to another, “You are the best.”