"You may not remember the joy you once felt in a hobby or activity that has fallen off your radar.... In 1979, Harvard professor of psychology Ellen Langer conducted a fascinating study of how we can improve well-being by doing things we enjoyed in our younger years...."
--Joan Borysenko, Fried
Did you know I used to play volleyball? Yep, I did. I played in high school and then some in college. In fact, here's a photo of a wee Jennifer Davies in the newspaper, whoring it out so the school could pull in some more scholarship cash:
I don't think you can get a sense from this picture of quite how big my hair was (very big) but this should give you a taste of my awesome Idaho lumberjack style. Flannel plaid shirt? Check. Baggy jeans? Check. Big hoop earrings? Check. Uniform done and done. But whatever, right? Someone in the development office thought I was model scholarship material, so I went with it.
Anyway, I played those two years in college, and then went to France to study abroad and gained 25 pounds eating pain-au-chocolats, graduated early, and then went to graduate school, where I waitressed and dated my boss at the restaurant and wrecked my life and tried to get a PhD.
There was no time for volleyball.
I did try to play a little summer league ball after the girls were born, but my knees were wrecked and my shoulder was wrecked and I had a bladder the size of a cashew and had to run to the port-a-potty every five minutes. Plus, I just didn't feel like I played well, and it stopped being fun. I felt like I was too old and too busy.
I haven't got any younger or less busy, and I'm probably not joining a league any time soon, but my friend J. is in one, and he asked me to sub into his indoor co-ed team tonight. Against my better judgment, I said yes. And then spent the whole day worrying about it. Will I hit the ball into the net? What if I can't jump anymore? What if I miss all my serves? What if the team won't make eye contact with me because I'm so bad? What if I pee my pants on the court? What if I break something?
But I went anyway, despite my fear and misgivings. Let me tell you, every muscle in my body is sore right now and my kneecaps look like cauliflowers, but you know what? It was a blast. I surely had my spasmodilicious moments, and I'm not a great volleyball player (never was), but I had a kill or two that felt fantastic, like it did when I was eighteen years old. And I didn't pee my pants.
And that, my friends, was worth it.