Sunday morning my seven-year-old granddaughter sat beside me drawing pictures. She labeled the pictures “Cartoon Network” and told me the girl with pigtails was her.
“Daddy doesn’t know what life is all about,” she told me as she put the finishing touches on the picture.
I almost choked on my coffee at her solemn tone. I finally managed a strangled, “Oh? How’s that?”
“He thinks life is about winning,” she said, “and it’s not. Life can be about losing.”
When she said that, I laughed. Rob had warned me about the trophy generation who expect trophies for participating. Kids that don’t want to win, they just want to tie. Winning might upset someone who didn’t win—or (heaven forbid) might feel like a loser.
I’ve always considered winning to be important. Not winning at all costs by any means—but winning fair and square. I never liked to play on a team with someone who didn’t put out their best effort because of an “it’s just a game” philosophy. Competitiveness is an inner urging to do our best whether we are playing a game, facing a tough challenge, or pulling our share of the weight, or more, at work. Coming out in first place is an accomplishment and cause for celebration. Sometimes, the will to win can be the difference between life and death. We have all heard stories about people who refused to die and survived against insurmountable odds because they were determined to win.
“Grandma Linda, I’m serious. If you have the prizewinning pumpkin you can’t make pumpkin pie out of it. The losers get to eat pumpkin pie.”
I had to admit there was some logic to her theory.
“Where did you learn what life is all about?” I asked, curiosity getting the best of me.
“The Berenstain Bears,” she said.
Who am I to dispute the Berenstain Bears? Since I often ponder what life is all about while driving to and fro from my various commitments, I thought about the validity of how life can be about losing.
Anyone who is a caregiver for a loved one with dementia understands losing. We lose our loved ones one skill, one memory, at a time. Day after day we grapple with this situation life has thrust upon us.
When Jim developed dementia, I learned about losing the man I had married, first to the disease and eventually to death. Up until then, life had been difficult at times, but Jim had been my strength and the person who propped me up when I was sad, or just felt like a loser.
Losing Jim made me a much stronger person. I had to make the tough decisions and with no one to pass them on to, I understood Harry Truman’s motto that the “buck stops here.”
So thinking back to a seven-year-old’s statement that life can be about losing, I have to admit that sometimes it is. Losing shapes our character and the fabric of our being in a different way than winning does. We find inner strength that makes us appreciate when life is good.
And my final thought on the matter—pumpkin pie isn’t the only thing we would miss in life if we don’t take a chance on losing.
Copyright © October 2010 by L. S. Fisher