I always knew that exercising is good for the health, but I actually haven’t been exercising regularly. Whenever people ask me, “What kind of exercise do you do for your health? How do you keep your health?” I awkwardly answered, “I do breathing exercises.” Sometimes I answered, “I walk whenever I get a chance.” Walking is truly good exercise. Walking is not overly strenuous to your body and is an exercise that everyone can do. Many who understand my weakness have recommended me several times to learn golf. I always hear that golf is a very good sport for one’s health from those who do enjoy golf. I want to learn golf but my limited time doesn’t allow it.
Recently, as I began playing ping-pong again, I realized that ping-pong is really good exercise for me. Not everyone likes ping-pong, and no one is obligated to like ping-pong. What’s important is that each person should find a fitting exercise for oneself and exercise regularly. I want to share with you some lessons of life that I’ve learned as I began playing ping-pong again.
First is the importance of a coach. There is a great difference between just learning and learning through a coach. One of the reasons why a coach is important is that through the coach you can master the basics well. Those who have mastered the basics can experience continual growth. However, those who do not master the basics remain as the beginners. Life cannot be lived out just with passion and effort. We must encounter a good coach. We cannot be excellent just by putting more effort. We become excellent when we are well-coached.
Second is the importance of an instrument. Choosing a right racket makes a huge difference when playing ping-pong. A painter values one’s paintbrush. A musician considers one’s instrument as precious as life. A swordsman always keeps a good sword near him. A good swordsman moves together with his sword as if the sword is part of himself. Those who are good at ping-pong play it with a fitting racket for themselves.
Third is the importance of posture. Ping-Pong is a fair sport. To those who play sports, having good sportsmanship is very important. Ping-pong players have good manners. They begin their game with a bow, and with a posture of a learner. In addition, they do not cheat each other in the game. When playing doubles in ping-pong, teamwork is highly valued.
Fourth is the importance of being considerate. Different from playing a competitive game, when you are playing casually it is important to be considerate toward the opposite person. Communication is about giving and receiving. Communication is about connecting. Disconnection leads to pain but connection brings joy. When hitting a ball, it is important to hit the ball toward the other person so that he could hit it back to you. If you are not hitting the ball in the way that your opponent can return it back to you, then you will lose the joy of giving and receiving the ball.
I prefer enjoying ping-pong casually than to play competitively. Even when playing in a competitive game, I do not like being too obsessed with winning. One of the things I have learned in life is that unless it is an extremely important matter it is better to let others win. The best way is to win together. Stephen Covey says that the principle of winning together is a ‘Win-Win Agreement.’ When one side is always winning, the losing side will grieve bitterly. For such reason, it is wise to seek a way to win together.
Fifth is the importance of rhythm. One of the things you experience as you give and receive a ball is rhythm. You experience amazing joy when you exercise in steady rhythm. Even in nature, which God has created, there is rhythm. The four seasons of the year is the rhythm of nature. Even in music, rhythm is important. It is the same for sports. When we are rhythmically moving, exercising becomes enjoyable.
Last is the importance of continuity. Continuity is the principle of being excellent. Continuity and repetition are the way to excellence and enjoyment. Whatever it may be, the beginning stage is always hard and unpleasant. However, we begin to enjoy it when we reach at certain level. We begin to be immersed in it. We begin to enter into a place of mysterious joy where we forget about ourselves as we focus only in the game of ping-pong.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.