Do You Need to be Strong or Fast to Win Life’s Battles?
The whole of my life, I have sought to win; I have worked toward success in one way or another – whether it was the simple purchase of a lottery ticket or getting in a pickle between 2nd and 3rd base.
Why is Winning so Important?
We want recognition. We want accomplishment. We want to be successful. I remember hating the game Monopoly, when I was younger. I have a brother who was insanely competitive – he still is – who won almost every game. It drove me mad, but not because he won, but rather because I lost.
Some of us are better at losing than others. Perhaps, I win at losing.
No, I think it is deeper than that. I want to be relevant – and winners are relevant. Winners win. Winners finish first. Their home-baked cookies are the best. They walk away with awards. They hear applause often.
They are happy – is that it? Are winners happier than those of us who merely strive but fail?
It seems simple. Isn’t relevance what we all want? Aren’t we all just looking for a smile or a cheer, a pat on the back, a “good job” or “atta boy”, a raise in our pay? Is that relevance? Or is that acceptance?
Perhaps we just want to know that we and what we contribute are valued.
State of Mind
I purchased my first scratch-off lottery ticket when I was 26 years old. I had gone to the local mall with a friend on my lunch hour. I was a mom of two at the time and money was tight, but I had an extra buck in my pocket and thought, “What the heck?” That very first scratcher was $100 winner. I was shocked, surprised, but most of all – happy – I could afford diapers that week.
Just one year earlier, while practicing with my league softball team very early one Saturday morning, I found myself in a pickle. I had just landed the shortstop position. I had an insane arm – that could be a little wild. But I was honing my ability in lengthy practices and found myself in a very good place: playing shortstop with a #1 team with a .822 personal batting average. Until the pickle.
Some guys were waiting to use the field and decided to challenge us “girls” to a quick pick-up game. We, of course, accepted the challenge. I hit a double to deep right and found myself rounding 2nd. Mistakenly, I thought there had been an overthrow, but really – the throw had been to 3rd base, and square in front of me stood a waiting, gnarling 3rd baseman, holding said ball. I screamed and turned, only to find the ball now at 2nd base. Turning again, my cleat caught and my body went one way, while my foot and lower leg stayed planted. A loud pop could be heard. That pop was the ACL in my right leg snapping in half.
I continued to play for several more years, but I lost my position, my batting average dropped, and eventually left the sport, after six knee surgeries.
Win or Lose
I could have continued to buy lottery tickets, hoping for another winner. I could have curled up in ball and never struck out again. But I didn’t do either. My battle continued, on different fields.
Bruce Lee said, “Defeat is a state of mind. No one is ever really defeated until defeat has been accepted as reality. “ And that dude? He never stopped kicking, never stopped fighting.
Life can Kick You in the Teeth
And it often does. But what are you going to do? Let it or dodge the punches and turn the other cheek? I wish it were easy – trust me – every single morning, I wish it were easy. When my alarm goes off and I have to pull my creaking, aching 55 year old body out of bed and hobble to around to start my day, bot – do I wish it were easy.
I have learned, you just keep going, you just keep moving forward. And onward.
Victory does not come to those who stand still.
In my parent’s bathroom hung a copy of one of my dad’s favorite poems, You Can. I read it every time I ventured into their private space, I remember reading it over and over again, committing it to memory over the years. The last verse has gotten me out of bed, more than once.
To the stronger or faster wo/man.
But sooner or later the wo/man who wins,
Is the wo/man who thinks s/he can.
Some weeks, it’s just one day at a time. Some days, it’s just one step at a time. And some steps, it’s just one moment. When all you can do is find the next moment, that is enough.
And that’s all it takes.