Trying to be positive in the cold, dark haze of snowless Geneva, anxiously anticipating the January 20th inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States and all that will follow, continuing to be overwhelmed by pictures of the carnage in Syria and the unfolding denial of hospitality towards those fleeing violence, shocked at random attacks against innocent people in the name of a religion that purports to be humane, one searches for momentary relief and reasons to smile as 2017 begins.
And there it is: Roger’s back!
We are not talking about Roger Federer the tennis player. Probably his best tennis days are behind him. Probably he will never surpass his 17 Grand Slam titles. Probably various injuries and age have finally caught up with him. There will certainly never be another Davis Cup triumph for Switzerland.
That’s not the point. We are talking about Roger Federer the person, someone we watch who is so glad to be back playing the game after a 179 day layoff that he jokes on the court and imitates playing drums while sitting in the stands. We empathize with his joy. We share in his happiness. Roger reminds us that adults can enjoy games, that with all the seriousness that surrounds our daily lives there is joy in life, a joie de vivre that we should never forget.
We understand that we cannot all be as successful as Roger. We cannot all have his tennis titles, his various homes, his seemingly ideal family life. That is too much to ask. What we can share with him, however, is his ability to live in the moment.
The famous American novelist, short story writer and essayist, David Foster Wallace, wrote an often-cited essay about Federer. He praised Federer’s athleticism and the beauty of his strokes. A player himself, Wallace described Federer much as a ballet critic would talk about Rudolf Nureyev. Wallace was immersed in the elegance of Federer’s style.
The point here has nothing to do with Roger’s tennis. We all recognize the uniqueness of his strokes. Roger’s recent behavior in Australia is more than just about tennis. It’s more than just his elegant clothing at Wimbledon or the professionalism of his Rolex and Mercedes ads. What he has showed at the Hopman Cup is the exuberance of doing that which he loves, his satisfaction at once again playing a game while fully assuming his role as a responsible adult and father of four children.
Roger’s back. Watching pictures of him gamboling on the court, beating drums in the stands, we can easily smile and momentarily forget the cold, snowless weather and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that surround us. Thanks Roger for that.