Why Half a Brain Is Adequate for Most Tasks

I’m trying to understand – what makes us stronger, versus, what is wearing us out. If I have practised a sport too long, or too enthusiastically, to the point where I am injured, then it is easy to see the obvious – I am broken. I must get fixed up.

Suppose I stop at the point just before I get injured. I go home. I put my feet up. The next day my battery is not quite fully charged. I’m still sore. No pickleball for that day, but I can do something creative… I can write. All day and all evening.

It is funny, the mind isn’t like a muscle, so it is harder to figure out how to make it stronger. Having been an arborist most of my life, I like the analogy of thinking it terms of what a plant needs to put out healthy flowers and leaves.

Plants, and ‘late bloomers’ need fertilizer, water, and sunshine.

The fertilizer is the crap we go through every day,… the icky stuff we learn to deal with. For some reason, we can think of it all later, and it makes us smile to think of how we managed to cope with the difficulties.

The water, in this analogy, is the juice we get from an inspiration, an idea that we know is good, and is worth sharing.

Then there is the most important part of being creative. Sunshine, which is the joy and love we get in our relationships.

Those are the ingredients you need to assist you in doing a bit of writing or other creative work.

Of course some nights, like now, I am feeling extra power, so I exercise my tray cells. Write, write, write,… I just have to make sure I don’t …… don’t… Oops! Something is wrong!

I run in the bathroom. Oh nooo! Smoke is coming out of my ears! I did it now… #+&#&# ! I’m old technology! I blew a fuse!

I’ve heard it many times on sports interviews. The broadcaster will ask the hockey star, football player, etc., how he plans to approach the upcoming game?

The sports star replies, “Well, this is a crucial game coming up, so I intend to give 110%!!”

Seriously! The guy intends to use all his training and ability in the game, plus borrow 10% from his future self, and presumably, time travel it back to his present self! The funny thing is, I’ve noticed that most of the 110% guys end up losing the next game anyway.

My theory is, it is better not to give 110%. Intuitively, I think it is better to stay loose and smell the roses (perspiration? herbal deodorant? ). What kind of player are you? Can you multi-task? What percentage of concentration do you give to the game (60%,75%,90%?), and what percentage to ‘kibitzing’ with your fellow players?

In a dream of mine, there would be a study, funded by the UBC Centre For Pickleball Excellence, that would come up with a surprising result — the most effective ratio of ‘kibitzing’ to playing would be 50!50.

The profile this week is of someone who has a post career job. He is a writer, who turned his avocation into his occupation late in life. I think you will find his story to be interesting.


  1. How old are you?
    • North of 65 but south of 70. My wife would likely give my age as much younger, but she’d also tell you that she meant my mental rather than my chronological age. Hell, at this stage of the game, I’ll take any compliment I can get.
  2. Your former and present profession?
    • My degrees are in psychology, sociology, and social work. During my 35 year sentence working for the provincial governments in 2 provinces, I worked as a social worker in child protection and juvenile probation, ran a treatment centre for troubled youth, and worked in a variety of management positions, most recently in quality assurance. I wrote a lot of reports, policies, manuals etc. Many of them in use today — as doorstops. Boring stuff, but I must give the government its due. I got a good start at writing fiction, but it took two or three years of hard work for me to write anything that didn’t sound like policy– or worse, a briefing note.
  3. How long have you been writing?
    • I’ve been writing novels and occasional short stories for five or six years, that is, spending consistent and concentrated time writing and studying creative writing. I’ve also taken creative writing courses, attended several writing conferences, and I’m a member of a critique group with Victoria Writer’s Society. There is a lot to learn about writing in whatever genre one chooses. It’s always a process of learning, improving, writing, and revising. Like pickleball you have to work hard to hopefully improve.
  4. How did you become interested in pickleball?
    • My first awareness of pickleball occurred several months ago when the Saanich recreation schedule featured a photo of happy looking players on the cover. In true senior fashion, I forgot about it, but then happened to see the sign up outside the gym at Commonwealth Place and looked in. I played for the first time two days later, and have been hooked ever since.

Thanks to John for his writing tips.

His first novel, THE WHITE LIMOUSINE, is available through the Victoria Public Library – or you can buy a copy on Amazon – or, order direct at www.johnrpaterson.com

His next novel, THE DOUGLAS DOCUMENT–BETRAYAL will hopefully be published within the next few months.

One nice thing about PB is the social aspect of the sport. I have spoken with many people who wondered what they would do in retirement. They didn’t play golf and they wanted or needed more social interaction. Others had already retired and were tired of the same old… same old…then they discovered pickleball. It changed their lives…literally. The drop in at Pearkes is a great way to meet new friends and play with a variety of people.

Partner play or doubles can be enjoyed at any level – from beginner to advanced. There are tournaments for the serious and not so serious. Let’s start with serious play. this occurs when two people team up to test their prowess against other partnerships.

Like all pickleball there is a ‘Riteway’ to play with a partner. Let’s start with the basics. Most points are won by opponent errors. I must repeat, most of your points will come via your opponent’s errors. That means each team will be guilty of making ‘unforced’ errors. We all try our best to make good shots but we are never going to be flawless. When an error occurs, ‘forget it’… concentrate on the next point. There is no need to give your partner a dirty look or worse, tell him or her they screwed up. They know it… get on with the game… relax. Compatibility is essential in partner play.

Now for the techniques of doubles. As a serving team, try to advance toward the kitchen line together i.e. you both should be roughly the same distance away from the base or kitchen lines.

When your partner moves to one side to ‘cover the line’ you must move towards the middle keeping roughly the same distance from each other at all times.( usually the distance between you is what you can effectively cover – one with the forehand and one with the backhand.) If one of you dish up a ‘not so good shot’, or a ‘duck’ try to back up a step or two before the offensive team hits the ball. Try to get more distance between yourself and the ball striker. Again, try to back up together. Remember to stop as the ball is being hit and get ready to do your best to return a defensive shot. If the opposing team is hitting hard overhead volleys at you, your best chance to return it is if you are all the way back on your baseline, although you will be vulnerable to a drop shot.

To be continued…Till next time enjoy all of your pickleball experiences.

The people there are nice, but I feel inept and insecure. Why bother? I could just go back to my room. I don’t fit into this group anyway. They probably don’t even like me, they are just being polite to a newcomer.

Well whatever, I can be polite too. I will pretend to enjoy myself, after all, I paid for this session. I can play my role. I go out on the court.

I can act my role… hey,.. hey,… did anyone notice that? I scored a point!

”Well placed”, says my playing partner. I look over and smile at him.

He just told me I placed the ball well. I won’t tell him that I was aiming in a different direction. After all, maybe he sees something in me. I could have a natural talent!

Anyway, if I’m going to improve, I have to relax. That must be the key to it all….be cool.

Oh, oh,.. I just had a thought — I may be too cold! Maybe the secret of this game is to be more intense! Except…. I’m kind of lazy.

Maybe I should just be myself. Well, not quite…

No,….. it didn’t work out that way. When I play the game with other people, I’m not myself. That’s what I learned that first day. Each day in pickleball is like that for me.

I walk in the door at Pearkes feeling unsure, but then it happens. I get caught up in the fun! I learn to play the game. I learn to play each day. I suspend my cynicism and open the door to the experience, and, I forget who I am!

Many people this week told me they liked my ramblings, one person even told me that they ‘loved’ the CHALLENGE COURT.

Victoria pickleballers are very generous and supportive people, and I want to tell you how much I appreciate all your comments, but, since no one has nominated me for the Nobel prize in literature, I will continue to try to improve my writin’ real good stuff and thing-ys.

Genie, one of my imaginary friends, still needs some time to bring her forward, but I suspect that she may turn up in a story soon. I am still working on a number of different ideas that aren’t quite ready.

So long until next week,… and don’t forget to ….uh,.. umm,… something important…. I think it might have been about animal rights,…. or to get out and vote…, or eat organic pumpkin seeds… or I know… support your local arts, sports groups, and entertainers.

Responsible middle age couple from Saskatoon looking for winter accommodation in Victoria from approximately mid Oct to mid Apr.

A house sitting position with modest rent would be ideal situation for them. They would prefer Western communities so they can be active in the Juan de Fuca Senior Centre, but are open to all options within the Victoria area.

For further information and a reference please contact John MacLeod (request contact info via email).


‘Pickle well’,


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