Saturday, October 24, 2009
About two weeks ago I watched as a new friend of mine debated his failure at a personal goal against a group of people. After listening to a bit of well-earned self-pity about what the other people might think of him, this timeless line popped into my head: "Living well is the best revenge."
Personally, I try not to hold too many grudges in my life. Whether or not I'm successful in that endeavor, I can thankfully say that nothing I do as a result of a grudge involves a feeling of vengeance towards any wrong doing I've perceived directed at me. Sure, life is not easy and I'd be the first person to admit that. Unfortunately, too often people seem beaten down or fired up by their perceived lack of fairness in this world. Too much time and energy is wasted essentially shouting at the heavens for clarity, a chance at redemption, or answers when there actually aren't any to be found. What it comes down to is, at some point if a person spends their time focused on whether life is fair or not, as well as the concepts of winning and losing, they are probably wasting their best years. I have known countless people like that and have avoided those types of people as much as possible for years.
What seems like my now healthy perspective on fairness and winning came at a personal price, for I too was once wrapped up in years of long nights spent wondering the "hows" and "whys" of the universe. Finally, by the grace of some unnameable supreme being, I woke up one morning and realized it just didn't matter.
I've never been one of those guys who sought the highest highs of success, getting off instead on the adrenaline of "the doing", "the making." I've often received more excitement over the attempt than the idea of some anticlimactic "win", which felt like a brick wall of emotional let down. I can vividly remember looking at the winner of a class competition as a child and thinking "and now what happens to him?" Nothing. Life went back to normal for him and all of us, so why did it matter if we strived for the top prize? Of course, I can't say I don't enjoy being the best at something, nor am I ever not trying my hardest at a given task, but I'm never really too disappointed when falling short of perfection. There is usually someone who is going to be better at something than you are, but why beat yourself up over it? Growing up, whether I won or lost at something my dad always asked me if I had tried my best. When I would answer "yes", he would breathe a sigh and say "well then, that's all that matters" and never bring it up again.
Maybe overall I'm just not a competitive person by nature. Winning to me isn't all it's cracked up to be, and neither is losing if you learn a great deal from it. I've also learned that there is no weakness is discussing failure. All strength gained from lessons learned is a victory if applied timely and appropriately. So let's all go out there and do our best, take a deep breath, maybe stop for a drink afterwards, and enjoy the valid attempt. Sometimes that's all you've got.