Side Effects of 2020

Table Tennis and Life

Someday we’ll look back on 2020 and remember it as the year everything changed. Actually we can say that about any year, but if you’ve been around long enough, some years will stand out. I have to admit, it hasn’t been all bad. I’ve been spared any tragedies, and been able to continue with only minor adjustments to my typically laid back lifestyle. April was the only month that I wasn’t coaching on a regular basis. I’m not coaching as much as I did a year ago, but that’s allowed me to discover some new interests. Below is a list of side effects that I’ve experienced in 2020. I’ll start with the ones relating directly to table tennis, and gradually expand to the broader issues, but I feel like they all have affected me in every aspect of my life, including my approach to coaching and playing. 

  • My infatuation with antispin rubber – I wouldn’t have stuck with it so long if I was competing more often. I really enjoy the change of speed and the unique sound of the Spinlord rubber I discovered. In the end, anti was just not as effective as it was fun to play with. I am sure I would have discovered this earlier if I had tried to compete with it on a regular basis. I had just started using anti in March, and messed around with it for months before deciding it was limiting my already infrequent attacking abilities. I don’t think it was wasted time. In addition to being fun to use, I did make some progress on my twiddling patterns and strategies when I returned to my previous setup. 

  • Practicing serves – I certainly had plenty of time for practice. I was determined to work on a tomahawk serve, and practiced it for weeks before I had a chance to try it out on anyone. This also turned out to be less than great. But, I did narrow down my serves to the ones that are the most effective, and discovered a short topspin serve that has been working well.  

  • Food – I am the primary cook at my house. My cooking skills have noticeably improved. Faced with the possibility of eating myself into an early grave, I went the complete other route and began intermittent fasting in earnest. I’ve lost 16 pounds since August. My endurance is much better when playing matches, and I generally feel more alert and energised. 

  • Major purchase – With the purchase of a one speed mountain bike, I found the perfect compliment to table tennis and running. Once I figured out that I needed more air in the tires, I really enjoyed riding on days when my legs were tired from running, or table tennis. 

  • Book club – The club is mostly just me and my wife. I hadn’t read any fiction in years. With extra time on my hands, reading became a real treat.  All of the books pictured are excellent. The book about the Stokes twins is not fiction, but is an account of the battalion that my uncle fought with in WW 2. I also read Once a Runner, and passed it on to another runner. Advertised as the best fictional book about competitive running ever written, it more than lived up to its billing. Once I finished all of these books, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel. Currently, Smart is a work in progress, but I’ve written about seventy pages. It’s been a learning process.

These are all good personal side effects of 2020. I could list all the bad side effects, but I think we are all very aware of them. The upcoming holidays will be a challenge. I am cautiously optimistic about 2021. If 2021 is going to be an improvement over 2020, we’ll need to be aware of all the side effects of the medicine that’s been prescribed to the world. There’s a price to be paid for isolating people, especially children. It’s entirely possible that wearing a mask constantly might not be good for you. My concern about masks has always been that once people get used to them, they won’t want to give them up. Go figure. As I write this, I’m watching a neighbor walking down the street, by himself, wearing a mask. I’ve had a pretty great 2020, all things considered. Sometimes you get to take lemons and make lemonade. Most of the medicines we take, shouldn’t be taken forever. There’s always side effects.

3 Replies to “Side Effects of 2020”

  1. Wow – I’d say the pandemic has been good to you. I too have enjoyed working on my cooking skills but a NOVEL?? Really? I’m impressed. (forget the one-speed bike tho)

  2. So is that one-speed bicycle a “fixie”. Fixed Gear is the cycling equivalent of hardbat, ya know.

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