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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The downtime between victories

Losing sucks.
The system is corrupt.
It's a good thing we get Jesus' win/loss record.

Rambler's alert: i pretty much go off on a tangent for the rest of the post.  Those were the only real points i make as near as i can tell.  So unless you wanna see how deep the rabbit trail goes, you may wanna take those three and walk away a winner.  Otherwise...

There are degrees of losing.  

  1. First degree losing is to just be beaten.  You didn't really have a chance to win, you were out matched, out played and not really fit to tie the other guy's gloves but you stood in there and took your drubbing and there's pride in that.  Perverse pride but a gap toothed grin over a beer is still a good beer.
  2. Second degree losing is harder to take.  Second degree losing is what good rivalries are made of.  Two equal opponents slugging it out and never really gaining ground.  It's anybody's guess who will win each time these two come together and they can't come together often enough and they can't wish any harder to never meet again.  Second degree losing is the sharpening stone for a good team, they test their mettle and found it not quite up to Ginsu standard.  But there's next time.  Slightly more whiskey and bitter but still a good beer.
  3. Third degree losing, is not losing at all.  It is when a victory that was rightfully yours is taken from you and given to an undeserving foe.  Third degree losing is a betrayal.  You are made to feel the anguish and responsibility of someone else's hideously poor or immoral decision making.  This is not a good beer.  This is not beer at all.  This is oxycodone and murderous thoughts of revenge.
Now some folk take it too far.  For some folk, and living in Philly one has a grotesquely fattening smorgasbord of good examples of bad losers, all losing is third degree.  There is always a reason why they were betrayed and there is always a scapegoat to pin it on.  Sometimes, in the case of Andy Reid, their right.  The rest of the time, they're just unwilling to see the facts. 

Fact is, sometimes you lose.  Ain't nothing wrong with that, the best teams still lose and most are better for it.  Losing reminds us that we aren't gods.  We are in fact losers who are raised to a better standard at times.   Losing sends us back home, it's introspective and hopefully we find ourselves and our true motivation again.  The christian comes home to the ever present embrace of the Father who loves us and gave us the greatest victory of all which frees us to truly play.  Everyone else goes home to ..whatever it is you wacko's cling to.  Losing prepares us for life, if you can't lose well, you will be tragically underdressed for ninety-five percent of what goes on in a day in the real world.  Losing sucks, but it ain't the end of the world.  It's just a good starting point for a beer with your friends.

So what do we teach kids when we try to protect them from all loss?  When we don't keep score in their little leagues?  When we give trophies just for being able to put one leg in each hole of their gym shorts?  i dunno, but i'm pretty sure i'm not going to want to live in a country run by them.  Those who have never lost can't appreciate winning.  They have no idea what it takes to achieve real victory.  They have no endurance when the race gets hard, when the enemy is bigger, stronger, smarter.  They have no way of facing impossible odds.  They have no cunning to find and exploit weakness.  Those who have never lost cannot win well either.  They cannot have empathy so they cannot have grace.  Those who have never lost cannot see themselves as losers justly deserving loss and yet being handed grace and victory by someone else.  When they win, they assume it was their birthright for they are gods and cannot lose, when they lose, they assume they were betrayed for they are gods and cannot lose.  They cannot stand to have the illusion burst so winning becomes everything.  For those who have a more realistic view of themselves, losing is just the down time between wins.

But third degree losers.  The truly betrayed.  What do they learn?  They learn that there is no point in trying because someone else has rigged the game.  They are at best, made to feel like losers; responsible for actions that were not their own, at worst, like victims of an unjust system.  

As a father, what do i tell my boys?  As a child of God, what is my Father telling me?

Can't wait till i can have a pint with Jesus in Jeremiah's Bar and Grill and laugh about lovable losers.


  1. Oops posted this on wrong one.. here it is again..

    Loved your rabbit hole but take issue with "Third degree losing"...

    Learning from Third degree is what can make us great. It is the essence of "it is not weather you win or lose it is how you played the game" That has morphed into not having winners and losers... that is wrong. It means that if you are doing what is right and lose that is ok (hey jesus would likes that too). It also means if you do it right and lose you still can look at how you can do it better... how can you keep from being "cheated" next time. Always find the lesson, always find the way to improve and you can NEVER be cheated fully. Any team that loses on a bad call made another mistake that could have won the game. The best teams focus on correcting the mistakes not focusing on the bad call... wisdom to understand what one can and cannot control and focusing on what you can control sounds like a good prayer... PANZER out.

  2. At first blush, i thought maybe i hadn't made my point clearly... but now i see yours. "Any team that loses on a bad call made another mistake that could have won the game." Well put.

    When i wrote about Third degree losing, i had a specific moment in mind in which those in authority let their team down with ..less than wise decision making, shall we say. The boys could play their hearts out and still lose because they weren't really given the opportunity to win, they were held back, not just one bad call, but a series of bad calls, so to speak. And being held back is a situation that resonated with my life in general.

    From there i sort of round about voorlooped into the territory of never letting your kids lose. Not a straight line but then i tend to amble about aimless at odd times. It probably would have made more sense to rant about being held back in life, huh? Oh well, opportunity for a new post someday!