William vs. Federer

The tennis world saw the retirement of two world class players this year. Instead of lamenting their departure as “losses”, I prefer to celebrate the remarkable career that they had.

Naturally, those who are obsessed with the label of GOAT (Greatest Of All Times) would argue to crown either players or lay down their reasoning for why neither of them ought to be. Personally, I believe when that level of athleticism has been attained, be it the longest running World No. 1, the highest number of Grand Slam wins, who is crown the GOAT is simply an entirely subjective act.

The atmosphere surrounding the news break of both players, unfortunately, were quite a contrast. Roger Federer is widely regarded as a ‘faultless’ player. It will be very difficult to meet anyone who openly dislike him. I, for one, have never come across any person of any colour/ nationality/ gender, whether tennis fan or not, have anything negative to say about Federer.

On the other hand, the moment Williams announces her intention to ‘evolve’ away from tennis, millions of gloaters emerge all over social media, mercilessly rejoicing that she did not manage to attain nor surpass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam wins. The same people who didn’t remind Federer that both Djokovic and Nadal had long beaten Federer in his Grand Slam record wins.

That mockery, to me, wasn’t the most hypocritical issue. In her career, people made fun of her colour, wardrobe choice, playing style, body type and God knows what other aspects of Serena that had entirely nothing to do with the sport. Each time she loses her cool, her flaws are amplified and criticized repeatedly. I do not believe any human being has the perfect temperament. Even the great Federer was known to have a bad temper in his earlier years. Should those angry moments be replicated and condescended over and over again, would he still be the calm and composed man he is known for later in his career?

There is no simple equation to becoming a tennis great. The amount of physical, emotional and psychological prowess of every one of them is beyond the comprehension of the average layman. While every one of us may try to use logic or tangible qualifiers to determine who the GOAT is, nothing quite beat the honour of having another world class player declare that you are the GOAT, because there are only a handful of people in this world who truly know what it takes.

In 2018, Roger Federer famously called Serena Williams “The greatest tennis player ever”. “Overall”, he clarifies. Not “Female tennis player”. He didn’t go on to explain why he thinks that. Interestingly enough, no one really asked either.

In my humble, unqualified opinion, Serena Williams triumphs Court, Graf, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and others who can be considered a GOAT of tennis by one simple reason. Tennis has been, and in many ways still is, a privileged white man’s sport. None of the other tennis greats were born as poor as Williams, none of them were treated as second class citizens in their country of birth due to no fault of them. It is not a surprise for me this significant handicap is rarely mentioned when anyone is tabulating the achievements of these athletics. Racism, combined with misogyny is a blend so disgusting that it leaves a bitter after taste no one wants to admit that they dislike Williams because they are quite simply, bigots.

No conclusions on this mindless rambling. Time poor these days with lives to raise.


Book Review: In the Mind Fields

In the Mind Fields: Exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis by Casey Schwartz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love the concept, or what the book set out to achieve. Schwartz admits right from the beginning that she has never been a ‘science person’, yet she bravely tackles a very difficult subject of bridging neuroscience and psychology, in other words, the hard and software of our brains. It is a question that I have frequently considered – why there is a lack of corporation in the studies of our brain and mind, when essentially both originate from the same organ.

The writing is relatively simple for such a complex subject. Schwartz manages not to overwhelm any layman readers with too much medical or scientific jargon, so that’s definitely a plus for me. She tries to create a story based on the research journey she undertook. Unfortunately that meant a great deal of information that I feel was unnecessary, such as how she nearly missed the opportunity to meet a certain important researcher.

I finished the book somewhat unsatisfied – there is no clear outlook or in fact, much conclusion except to point out a few key persons in the field continually trying to amalgamate the two opposing fields. While this makes an easy read for anyone ever curious about the biology and psychology of our brain, I wish the book had offer a meatier content.

View all my reviews


Love Your Inner Child

This article was first published on Medium

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” — Leo Tolstoy writes in Anna Karenina, a literary piece still considered by many as the greatest book ever written.

The principle of this wisdom indicates that in order for a family to be happy, there needs to be success in all aspects of family life — physical and emotional attraction remaining constant between the mum and dad, sound household finances, good parenting, unity in values and amiable relationship with the extended family. Failing one or more leads to unhappiness. The same principle applies indirectly to the environment in which a child is nurtured. Any form of enduring unhappiness within the domestic setting generally leads to an unhappy child.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

I grew up in a uniquely unhappy family and after a lifetime of dodging bullets I have preserved into middle age with some serious scarring but overall in sound health. Writing became a form of catharsis for me and during the years I researched on the subject of childhood maltreatment for the purpose of penning a novel, I stumbled upon a study of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. The study lists 10 specific types of trauma that can result in a child under the age of 18 feeling stressed or traumatised, potentially leading to chronic problems later in life:

Abuse — (1) Physical, (2) Emotional, (3) Sexual

Neglect — (4) Physical, (5) Emotional

Household Dysfunction — (6) Mental Illness, (7) Mother treated violently, (8) Substance Abuse, (9) Divorce/ Separation, (10) Incarcerated family member

Why is ACE relevant?

In this case study with 17,000 American participants, nearly 2/3 of adults reported at least one form of ACE, and almost 40% experienced 2 or more adverse experience as a child. Poor childhood tends to lead to negative impact on our health and quality of life, it is believed that those who endured 6 or more ACEs has a reduced life expectancy of 20 year. Overall, the CDC also reports an estimate $124 billion in cost associated with the mistreatment of children.

ACE is not a Blame Game

The study done by CDC was made with the intention of recognising and resolving an epidemic. Yet I feel that even with such compelling statistical study, every time the subject of childhood trauma is raised, there is often an immediate backlash of denial. Common remarks include:

· But that was such a long time ago

· Oh, just grow up!

· At least you had a home

· You need to stop blaming your parents for your problems

This unrelenting dismissal is perplexing to me, as though no one wants to believe that the purpose of conceding a dreadful past was not to point blame but to heal and work towards a better future.

What to do if you believe you have ACE?

It has been over 20 years since the study by CDC was completed and published. Yet there hadn’t been any known efforts of remedy or proposed solutions. It is possible that parents resent the notion that they could have been responsible for the detriments of their now adult children. Many adults who grew up with ACEs may also believe that as long as the adverse experiences were ‘forgotten’, they have since moved on and those bad memories have no relevance in their current life. Even more likely, the adults who endured a less-than-perfect childhood proceed to become less-than-perfect parents and everyone is none the wiser. Without a unified acknowledgement and consolidated effort to resolve the issue, society had somehow managed to sweep a chronic endemic under the carpet.

A quiz had been developed to help individuals understand the bearing ACE had in their early life. The quiz is developed to provide guidance so that a person may gain insight to their adult decisions and behaviours and seek help if necessary.

Acing the ACEs test

“Time does not heal the wounds that occur in those earliest years; time conceals them. They are not lost; they are embodied.” — Vincent J Felitti, researcher on the ACE study.

The ACE quiz is test that I wish I hadn’t Aced. As I look into my past with melancholy, the tremendous effort I had taken to seek treatment and heal myself is finally paying off and I look towards my future with relief and hope. While I am still unable to share the specifics of my dreadful journey, I continue in my little endeavours to publicize the merits of the ACE study to those children whose sufferings were never acknowledged. It is never too late to love your inner child.