Do you know that feeling when you’ve just finished reading a really good book? You finish reading the last page, close the book holding it in both hands, and then you take a deep breath in. You look at it one more time. That’s the moment when you realize you lost something, a part of you, and at the same time you got something really beautiful in return. And then questions creep in your mind – “what am I going to read now? what am I going to do? what now?”. And when on the front cover is the face of one of the most famous tennis players in the world, the black and white image and that feeling haunt you for a while.
That’s exactly how I felt a few days ago, when I finished reading Open: An Autobiography, by Andre Agassi. Once I started discovering his story, I couldn’t put the book down. I loved every page, every minute, and I know I will come back to it someday.
Andre Agassi’s life story is amazing, with ups and downs, with losses and victories. I think what struck me the most was the brutal honesty about a lost childhood, millions of hits and the constant quest for his identity. What Agassi achieved is to deconstruct the psyche in a captivating manner. He brilliantly articulated his emotions with the maturity of a 36-year old man feeling like a 96-year old. When reading the book I was so empathetic that I almost felt the anxiety, the confusion, the need of a support group, and then the serenity. I was a real emotional journey for me, and it is strange when someone you don’t know has written your thoughts in their autobiography, like this phrase that keeps coming back to me: I fight […] as always the loss of control, which feels like the ultimate loss of choice.
To be relentlessly focused when media and tabloids were calling him a rebel is probably one of the most important lessons I learned from this book. Winning, victory, success – they are a state of mind most of the time. There’s this excerpt that I simply love and now it’s like a mantra to me:
I’ve won 869 matches in my career, fifth on the all-time list, and many were won during the afternoon shower.
We all win or lose our daily matches, big or small, in the shower, during the morning run, before bedtime… It all boils down to our mental focus and desire to win.