Having a Ball in Paris

I have been contending with a sciatica challenge for at least five years now. I have a nerve that is 50% damaged, and it seems to be regressing. I have seen a chiropractor and had an epidural, but so far, to no avail. Surgery is always the last option, but it’s becoming a more viable one in the absence of other solutions.

The pain is most acute when I’m walking or standing in one place but rarely hurts when I’m sitting or, thankfully, when I’m playing tennis quite strenuously, particularly when competing in singles and while working out with my trainer. My theory about tennis is that I’m moving so instinctively and with a purpose and often in ways that might be stretching it more liberally than I would be able to when doing it in more methodical, planned ways, that it loosens up far more than when stretching it through a standard regimen.

Last week I discussed the book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. The authors discuss pain, and perhaps the research they reference applies to my situation when it comes to tennis.

Interestingly, studies have found that while athletes get acclimated to the particular type of pain associated with their sport, they do not get acclimated to pain in general. They still feel other types of pain just as acutely as anyone else does.

Whatever it is, the pain can be pretty difficult to contend with when walking, particularly when traversing such a beautiful and interesting city as Paris. To help relieve the pain, I will periodically do squats and sit down for a bit to take some pressure off of the pinching of the nerve in my hip and additional pain points in my lower right leg. And because the Mallorca part of this trip was tennis centric, I decided to carry a tennis ball around with me to use it to sit and roll on it to help release some of the nerve pressure when taking a break from walking.

Here is a picture of me rolling on the ball at a garden in Paris which is home to the city’s oldest tree (over 400 years old).

Gary sitting on a tennis ball in Paris

While in Mallorca, Heather and I once again visited the Rafa Nadal Academy. I’m not sure what inspired me (maybe it was my artistic side kicking in), but I asked Heather to take a picture of me in front of the entrance tossing a tennis ball into the air. Here is the shot she took.

Gary tennis ball Rafa Nadal Sport Centre Mallorca Spain May 2023

I rather liked how this picture turned out, and it gave me the idea to do my version of Flat Stanley and take pictures in Paris, tossing a ball in the air while visiting different sites throughout the city. What follows is a pictorial tour of Paris, most of which include me tossing my trusty ball.

This is in front of the oldest tree in Paris. Can you see the ball?

oldest tree in Paris Gary Carmell June 2023

These next two are in front of the Shakespeare and Company cafe and bookstore. In the first one, I took in isolation, while in the second one, I gained more courage and did my ball toss with others nearby.

Shakespeare and Company cafe and bookstore France Gary Ball

Shakespeare and Company cafe Gary Carmell June 2023

This is at Luxembourg Gardens, which is considered to be the most beautiful of the many exquisite gardens/parks in Paris. It’s situated in the Latin Quarter and is very near where we stayed. Our hotel was right next to the Sorbonne, and it was wonderful to be able to have such a beautiful park so close and accessible.

Luxembourg Gardens Paris June 2023 Tennis Ball

While at the park, we saw two older men doing stretches and exercises against a bench. They were doing them together, although when this picture was taken, only one of them was still doing his stretch while the other one was watching. They look so French. This picture looks like it may have been taken a long time ago. Well done, Heather!

Elderly men Paris

We thought it might be fun if we could play tennis while in Paris, but when reviewing how complicated it was to create a profile to register in order to make reservations on public courts, we decided it wasn’t worth it. If you’re a non-EU resident, they said it could take up to seven days to have your profile approved after entering the necessary information from your national identity document. And to add bureaucratic insult to injury, here is a picture of one of the courts that is closed in the Luxembourg Gardens.

closed Tennis courts in the Luxembourg Gardens

There is no net on the court, and the gate is locked. There is a long message on the gate that was in French. Utilizing the amazing Google Translate app, I was able to come to understand why the courts were closed. Government overreach?

Jardin du Luxembourg Closed Tennis Court

Here is a shot in front of the incredible Paris Opera House, made even more famous by Phantom of the Opera.

Paris Opera House Phantom of the Opera

The last time I was in Paris, I wrote about how much I loved going to Joe and the Juice for a smoothie. Unfortunately, none of their locations were close to our hotel. I didn’t let that dissuade me, however. We used it as an opportunity to hop on the Metro to go to one of their locations which turned out to be in the very upscale and famous Galeries Lafayette. One can get a view of the stunning stained glass ceiling of the shopping center.

Galeries Lafayette

Here is a picture that incorporates my CWS bag that shows our 2023 theme of Resilience, my tablet, tennis ball, and the cup that had my smoothie in it. To quote Joni Mitchell in her song Free Man in Paris (which is about David Geffen):

I was a free man in Paris

I felt unfettered and alive

Life was good, and I was definitely in my element.

Joe and the Juice Tennis Ball CWS Resilience Bag June 2023

Speaking of David Geffen, here is a picture of me with his yacht in the background in Mallorca. It is a little cramped, unfortunately, as it only has 82 rooms. As an aside, we missed seeing Jeff Bezos’ new, 400+ foot sailboat that had been anchored off of Mallorca only a few days before our arrival. I believe it was the first time it had set sail after being completed.

David Geffen 82 room yacht the Rising Sun in Mallorca June 2023

Here is a picture of the Rising Sun without me obscuring it.

David Geffen 82 room yacht the Rising Sun in Mallorca June 2023

Here is another picture of a very colorful and interesting French man sitting next to Heather.

Heather and the French Man Paris June 2023

Finally, the principal reason for coming to Paris was to attend the French Open at Roland Garros. Here are a few pictures from our time there. 

Roland Garros June 2, 2023

When you pull out a tennis ball and the ball kids take notice.

Ball Boy Ball Kids Rolland Garros June 2, 2023

Rolland Garros Gary Carmell June 2, 2023

I return home next week after a stop in New York to visit my daughter. It’s then back to the grindstone to try to figure out what is going on with the economy, the Fed, interest rates, credit flows, rents, and property values. There is a lot going on and even more to ponder, as the fog of war is pretty thick right now.

I don’t know what’s currently causing me more pain, my sciatica or very high short-term interest rates. Maybe the latter is exacerbating the former. Either way, hopefully, over the next year both will be causing much less pain than they are today. Only time will tell.





One comment on “Having a Ball in Paris
  1. Suzanne says:

    Beautiful photos. Safe travels.

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