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Knowing your limits

09 Aug 2022 | Written by By Peter Slee

Circular traffic sign depicting 50 speed limit. Circular sign with a white background, black numbers and a red border around the edge. Countryside in the background behind the sign.

I’ve just had my first dose of Covid.

I don’t recommend it, but if you’re going to get a disease that requires isolation at home, I can think of worse times to go down with it than Wimbledon Fortnight!

Yes, I watched more tennis than I have done for years (maybe since I was a student – and that was a long time ago!)

The excitement and drama played out on the grass courts of SW19 was certainly worth watching – and I hope those other tennis fans among you also enjoyed the experience – maybe some of you even had the privilege of sitting in those seats around centre court. Mind you, I think sitting in some shade in my living room with an iced drink may have been as good an option on those scorching days!

One of the matches I watched was between Taylor Fritz and Rafa Nadal. Maybe you watched it too, if not you may have caught the aftermath, as media pundits endlessly discussed Nadal’s physical health. The tear in his abdominal muscle appeared to cause him intense discomfort and restricted his movement, particularly when serving.

With the help of some strong pain relief, Nadal managed to not only get through the match, but to win it in a 5th set tie-break. 

Remarkable, I’ve no doubt, but the question that I keep asking is:

Should he have conceded in the second set, when it was obvious to everyone that he was struggling, and needed medical attention?

There may be differences of opinion among onlookers:

  • It shows the ability of the human spirit to endure pain and still triumph
  • He clearly didn’t want to let down his team and the Centre Court crowd who were expecting a great match
  • He may not have realised the seriousness of the situation and, being a true competitor, just kept going
  • He should have stopped in order to minimise the damage to his body and speed recovery time

Interestingly, there was continued speculation that Nadal would play in the semi-final, up until his press conference on the eve of the match.

However, even during the Fritz match, Rafa’s father seemed to make it clear that Nadal should default and concede the match.

So, was he wise to continue, or did his decision reveal that he didn’t know his limits?

In a much less dramatic scenario, I also found myself in a situation that gives rise to asking the same question.

As I mentioned, I found myself testing positive for Covid, and accordingly self-isolated for the suggested five days, after which – with my positive test now showing very feint – I decided to go out and enjoy the summer weather on the following couple of days. After all, I was getting better, or so I thought!

The next day I felt much more tired and realised that I was not as well as I had thought. The following few days I returned to the tennis and complete rest at home.

In hindsight, I realised that I probably didn’t know my limits, either.

I don’t know about you, but one of the issues in my life, these days, is how to come to terms with some of the limits in my life.

I’m not getting any younger!

This expression may be one you find yourself voicing from time to time, perhaps, or you may be in fierce denial of any difference that the ageing process may make.

I try to take a sensible approach to the passing years – to continue to live life to the full, while making adjustments that keep me safe and well. 

I guess it’s all about knowing my limits.

And my limits are not just the physical ones – such as giving up running because I started to feel some discomfort in my knees – but also the mental and emotional ones.

When I was working as a chaplain I was offering support, at varying levels, to lots of people (scores at least, possibly a couple of hundred at one stage) and just about managed to keep on top of this – remembering names, information, and sharing some of their burdens.

Nowadays, I can still offer support to family and friends, but my capacity to hold all that information is a little diminished. Anyway, “I’m retired”, aren’t I?

So how about you?

Do you know your limits, and can you live within them?

I reckon our ability to live within our limits – physically, mentally and emotionally – is likely to lead to a more comfortable and peaceful life.  

Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below.            


Peter Slee has recently retired from a senior position with a charitable care provider in a chaplaincy role. Peter has also held positions of responsibility as a Baptist minister, and a retail manager, in varied contexts. Retirement, which came sooner than expected, has given him the opportunity to develop his photographic and artistic inclinations (landscape photography, lino-printing and dabbling in acrylic painting). His 3 grandchildren also bring him great joy. 

Peter is one our pastoral specialists at The Joy Club, alongside Caroline Dobinson, who run our ‘Listening Ear’ support group sessions. You can find out more about these meetings here

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