The Sweet Spot. Bliss, for those of us who have played cricket long enough, was finding the sweet spot in the bat. The sweet spot was every man’s personal search for excellence. We were, in a way, defined by our attitude towards the sweet spot.
We discovered early enough that for such a large contraption, the cricket bat has a surprisingly small space reserved for its sweet spot. And, we discovered, that this exalted spot is not physical. If you search for it you won’t find it; you must feel for it. You must work your way to it in your mind. We found out the hard way, our thousands of greedy swings resulting in missing the ball entirely, hitting edges, or finding spots on the bat that made violent sounds. Rarely, when someone hit that sweet spot, every one of us was touched by that moment, our lives elevated by merely being around that phenomenon.
It is special, that sweet spot. It is heaven’s music when the ball plays it, the angel’s caress that speeds the ball along with a new energy, the piece of paradise that everyone is granted at least once in their life, so they know they also belong to a special existence. Hitting the sweet spot made playing for all those hours, years, worth it.
Sadly, most of us hit the sweet spot by fluke, maybe once or twice, in all our lives. Everyone remembers those shots as clearly as their first kiss. I do. It remains deeply personal– the feel, the sound, the power. It is a drop of divinity. We were allowed access to it fleetingly. Unlike those blessed ones.
The best batsmen find that sweet spot often and easily. For them it is all so easy, so perfect, so well-orchestrated that it appears like magic. It’s the stuff of the masters where the maximum is achieved by the minimum. It is the soul of Zen.
Those elite batsmen stay still. They keep their eyes on the ball and wait, allowing it to come on to the bat. As they follow these delicate processes, their honed instincts, with single-minded concentration, all else aligns around them – the bat position, the head position, the body weight – producing the perfectly timed shot. Stuff that people go miles to watch.
It is an act of love. The bat never hits the ball; it meets it and sends it off as a mentor would send off an enthusiastic student on an errand. Everyone is in it together as one – ball, bowler, bat, and batsman. It needs balance, focus, practice, commitment. It needs peace. Only a chosen few have the power to access it when they want.
Me, it teases.
But the gods have been kind. Luckily, I find that bliss in the most unexpected moments of my life. It happens when I give up after trying too hard, messily, noisily. There is a moment of calm, of nothingness, and then a flash of that mischievous bliss.
It appears concealed in sudden, uncontrollable laughter. It appears in a wisp of a song that reminds me of a time long gone. It appears in the beauty of the sun rise, the sun set, the stillness of mountains. It appears in the sparkle in a child’s eye. It appears in a quiet moment alone. It appears in the faint whiff of perfume when her hair unfurls, in her comforting lap where I can drown and forget about life. It appears in that knowing presence, that affectionate touch, that understanding look, the warm word. It resides in all that is unconditional and spontaneous, all that is giving and caring. In water that is cool, in breeze that soothes, grass that lets you crush it willingly.
It appears in a long drag, the first loss of inhibition, the taste of power and true freedom. It appears in the sheer gratefulness of being alive. It appears in the eyes of someone who loves you, in every act of kindness directed to you. Cushy as a pillow, warm as an embrace, deep as a drink, I find the sweet spot in all these places and more. Transiently, but enough to keep me going. This sweet spot that goes by different names – bliss, love, high, comfort, the zone.
My tragedy is that I could never own it fully. I cannot, because I never surrendered to it. It is too much for me to handle; I wake up at the first sign of comfort. It needs courage to surrender, it needs honesty, it needs me to be in the moment. Me, I am too full of myself.
But my vain quest continues. I want that sweet spot each time I hit the ball. I want that swell in my heart every time I feel. I want it undiluted, potent and clear. And I wonder. That sweet spot, is it in me, or is it in the bat? Is it in me or in the perfume? Me, or the lap? Me, or the song? And more disturbingly, do I find the sweet spot or does the sweet spot find me? I know there is a frequency at which that spot resonates with me. But where?
My sole concern now is this – how do I become that sweet spot entirely? From head to toe. Not just the bearer of an elusive sweet spot that even I don’t know where to find.
The one’s who know, they say that one needs to be non-judgmental, patient and compassionate to grow that spot. The elite batsmen agree. It’s their way.
Or perhaps it’s even simpler. Maybe all one needs to do is to let the gates open and one transforms into that sweet spot. Perhaps all one needs to do is to sink unconditionally and let go. It takes some getting used to, this sweet spot. This heavenly bliss. It must find you worthy, ready, else it will not appear. Meanwhile I prepare myself, season myself, waiting.
Harimohan Paruvu is the author of two novels ‘The Men Within – A Cricketing Tale’ and ‘If You Love Someone’. A Civil Engineer and MBA from Osmania University, he worked for 13 years, most of them in an investment bank, before choosing to engage himself as a writer, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator and management consultant. Harimohan is a first class cricketer, having represented Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy in 1985-87, when it last won the Ranji Trophy.