I ran into an old volunteer from PPP who was visiting the club the other day. This little old lady from southern California was playing ping pong, and I noticed that she was hitting the ball flat – just blocking the ball back to her opponent. I had played with and instructed this woman some time ago, and was taken aback by the fact that she was not hitting the ball the way she’d been taught … by me. I was offended. I was indignant. But I wasn’t gobsmacked. (I don’t get gobsmacked that easily.) All that time I’d spent in trying to show this person how to hit the damn thing, and now she ends up like she’s been playing in a subterranean basement for a full pandemic year against her preschool grandchildren. Made me sick. But not gobsmacked.
Okay, so then maybe I put my nose into where it wasn’t welcome – I gotta big mouth, what can I tell ya. So, while she was playing, I told her she couldn’t control the ball the way she was hitting it, unless she was playing with some newbie pushover, like maybe one of her grandkids. Was just presenting the facts. (Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts – Sargent Friday, Dragnet). But then all of a sudden, I get hit with a savage tirade. I should leave her alone, she says, because she’s only playing for fun and I (me) could never latch on to that concept! Can you believe the ingratitude and the extraordinary brazenness flowing outta this granny? Ah, well. Listen I was only trying to help.
Editor: I think I’ll surprise some of you, by saying that this is one time when I personally have to show some approval by supporting our zany blogger, Lao Du, with his little vignette. This is not to say that he was correct in his intrusive approach to this erstwhile Ping Pong Parkinson volunteer, who only declared that she was interested in having fun. That’s well and good. There’s nothing wrong with fun; it’s an appropriate goal – for that woman … but not for People with Parkinson’s Disease. Fun is a necessary component of our endeavors at PPP also, but by itself it’s not sufficient to accomplish what Ping Pong Parkinson has set out to do. May I remind you that our goal, our mission in a nutshell, is to promote the production of dopamine through the research-proven concept of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis – the brain’s capacity to make new neurons and connections through challenging physical exercise. The emphasis here is on the word challenging, and that, as it relates to ping pong, means always learning new skills. It means learning how to impart topspin and loops. It means cutting the ball, imparting underspin with pushes and chops. It means thinking about strategy and evaluating what your strengths are and figuring what your opponents weaknesses might be. And it means countless (endless) other skills involved in playing ping pong. There should never be a time at PPP when we rest on our laurels and do nothing further to improve, because standing still gets us nowhere. Besides, new skills will enrich us, and promotes … fun!
PPP will recommence on 5 May. Welcome back.