I play tennis every day
To join my Lord’s Vision-Play.
I am the surrender-ball:
All joy in a body small.
Tennis, tennis, tennis game,
My heart’s perfection-flame.
Sri Chinmoy, I Play Tennis Every Day, Agni Press, 1994.
“Guru loved tennis. Guru gave us a lot of joy when he played tennis, and he got a lot of joy playing tennis. So we thought by making the worlds largest tennis racket we would give other people joy.” This conversation with Ashrita, took place a little more than 5 days before what would have been Sri Chinmoys 81st birthday on August 27th. Around and about him a crew of boys is busily shaping rather ordinary bits of lumber into something quite unbelievable. Though it really doesn’t look like it now, in a short time it will somehow all come together making a world record 50 foot long tennis racket.
Last year Ashrita organized the world’s largest floral garland which extended around Flushing Meadow. This year he decided that building a 50 foot long tennis racket, “was as big as we could do.”
When asked whether or not the Guinness record people ever get amazed at these ideas for new records he says no. “They have seen it ALLL. They are serious about it. They just want to see that it has been done properly. They gave us permission to use a wooden racket as the model. That was the conditions. It has to be made completely to scale, and of the same exact materials.”
“It is a huge challenge but it is going to be amazing when it is done.” At different times of the process the crew size has varied but by late afternoon everything stops. The team has been careful about not working into the night and disturbing the neighbors.”
Back in the 80’s Sri Chinmoy played tennis for hours every day, with quite a few of his students who were good tennis players. Ashrita was one of those and I asked him why Sri Chinmoy enjoyed playing tennis so much. “He loved it. He was an athlete, and I think he just loved to move. He made progress. He got better and better, until his knees started getting bad. I think it was also a way for him to relate to people on a human level.”
He says that it also gave joy to people who were also there to watch. “It was a way for him to show his love and concern and affection for people, and he loved the exercise.”
He says that whenever he played Sri Chinmoy he never had much time to think about the experience. “You were just constantly running from side to side and front to back. There was no thought. You were just in the moment and trying to get the ball back.”
At this moment with the time remaining there seems like an almost insurmountable amount of work yet to be done but Ashrita says. “Somehow it will get done. The big work is done. Now you might say is just the finishing touches, although there is quite a bit of finishing touches. I think we are there. When it is done it is fun, when it is finished. The actual process is rewarding and it feels good.”