Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Ball Is In Your Court (MY Eng #51)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees', 'the elephant in the room', 'practising what you preach', blowing hot and cold', 'no smoke without fire', 'one swallow does not make a summer', 'apples and oranges', 'cut to the chase', 'leave no stone unturned', 'that's the way the cookie crumbles', 'can't have your cake and eat it too', 'old is gold', 'putting the cart before the horse', 'mountain out of a molehill', 'pot calling the kettle black', 'bite the bullet', 'go the extra mile', 'silence is golden', 'the devil is in the details', 'sink or swim', 'once bitten twice shy', 'don't count your chickens before they hatch', 'don't put all your eggs into one basket', 'chicken and egg', 'walking on eggshells', 'flogging a dead horse', 'better late than never', 'storm in a teacup', 'between a rock and a hard place', 'darkest before dawn', 'empty vessels make the most noise', 'birds of a feather flock together', 'separate the wheat from the chaff', 'let sleeping dogs lies', 'open a can of worms', 'light at the end of the tunnel', 'trial and error', 'look before you leap', 'lightning in a bottle', 'on the same page', don't judge a book its cover', 'reinvent the wheel', 'shifting gears', 'throwing in the towel', 'jump on the bandwagon', 'passing the buck', 'breaking the ice', 'cracking the code', 'when it rains it pours' and 'bigger fish to fry'.

Work always flows. Work never ends.

There's no point trying to push things along. No case truly ever closes. No matter how well we weave, a masterpiece still leave some loose ends.

All we can do is complete a task, stage by stage. Once completed, you've hit a pause button and get to enjoy some breathing space. Even if you want to press on hard, there's always someone else higher up the chain who has the authority to take further action. So just do your part, and relax.

* * *

That's how many of us work, day in day out. It's just a matter of hitting the ball across the court.

But we have to be smart about when, to whom, and how hard to hit the ball. Hit too fast, and the ball bounces back in a flash. Hit the ball at the wrong person, and the ball will simply sail away into the void which counts as a 'miss' and requires you to hit another shot. Hit to hard, and the ball will returned even harder back at you with a vengeance.

Yes, timing and technique is everything. Keep an eye on the ball. Be alert who the receiver will likely be, and when the ball will return to your court. Don't swing wildly in desperation to get rid of the ball. Strike the ball wrongly, and you may be facing a dozen new balls hit at your direction...

* * *

It takes practice and experience to master your strokes. Once you've found the right balance of hitting the ball at the right place at the right time, you'll be able to fluidly clear all the balls in your court without much hassle and stress.

Of course, there are always difficult players on the side of the court trying to mess your rhythm with wayward shots and stress you out by shouting like a madman. Just take a deep breath, and stay patient. Be nice, be respectful. But always stand firmly on your ground, and don't allow yourself to be bullied into submission.

Life is full of curve balls and pesky jerks. The best way to knock them out cold is to take your sweet time and play the perfect shot...

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