I have a soccer game tomorrow. My team has been losing for sometime until last Sunday. Sometimes I have come out of the football pitch feeling really defeated and worn out, discouraged and a little bitter. You think about the wasted chances, about the moments you would have acted, a shot, a pass, a move, a halt... yes, we could have done better. I would have shone. I would have been at the top. That is the feeling after failure. This has kept me thinking and I have come to this.
Life is not all about winning. Winning maybe the deceptive part of it. Its wildest truths, its deep lessons, its training comes with losing... with apparent failure - for there never is real failure if we look deeply at things.
Many years ago, I played in the soccer team of my Grade School. I remember losing a game. I was a kid then and had played with all the ardor and determination one could muster to win a game. We lost it. I was downcast. I cried peevishly. I could not understand. It did not just hurt losing, the sad thing was losing to a weaker team. Well my dad looked at me after all. With a simple tap on my back that was just his. He simply said: "You did your best. Life has many more failures in store for you. Don't waste all those tears now. Join the fun." It sank into me. There was no need for ramming things down. He added something that had remained in my mind for centuries, that was later when we came home: "You can lose a game. The only winner in every game is one who, even after losing, never loses himself."
Later in life, I have had a lot of failure not only in football. Setbacks and losses whose shock was far reaching and heart-wrenching than a mere soccer-game. Yes, there are games we can play over and over. Some games are played just once, like life itself. The great conquest is oneself. The great conquest of all is learning to lose. That may sound easy, but it is the greatest battle-- like accepting the sentiment of ridicule, feeling shamed before the crowd, letting someone else get the trophy just because we are inapt, yes because we cannot make it. The pain of letting go may be terribly shocking.
But there is something beautiful and wonderful about losing. We have the comforting relief that we did try. We grow in the knowledge of who we really are. We have an experience which lifts us up in the ladder of growth. Something always grow in us with every attempt we make towards something even if we don't win it. And this reminds me of how someone once defined experience: "The sum total of our mistakes." And you can imagine the difference when we say a young man has an experience. Experience isn't the synonym of old age, that is what most people confound it with. Experience could also mean, and I am not afraid to say, failure. Real failure is when we can't identify and incorporate loss into our life.
When we lose there is space for a new conquest. We would remain assuming, immature if all we aim at were given to us just that easily. Tomorrow I have another game. I may lose -- though I am playing to win -- but I know I am going to play to widen the world within my heart. Only cynics think they could be at the top all along.