Losing sucks, doesn’t it?
Courage is not an ability one either possesses or lacks. Courage is the willingness to engage in a risk-taking behavior regardless of whether the consequences are unknown or possibly adverse. We are capable of courageous behavior provided we are willing to engage in it. Given that life offers few guarantees, all living requires risk-taking.
I’ll never forget the first time I felt true defeat. It was back in elementary school, at the end of the school day while waiting for my parents to come and pick me up. I was talking with a friend on a bench at the patio when another kid I didn’t particularly like nor fear came to say hello to my friend.
I remembered saying some shit to him and punching him in the stomach to prove my childish superiority. The wimpy kid didn’t think twice after my first punch, and punched me right in the face. A stream of blood began coming out of my nose, I couldn’t believe what just happened. I told him he would “get it” after I cleaned myself, and went running to the restroom.
He didn’t “got it” afterward, my father arrived and I had blood in my shirt, so he found out what happened. My father was a big fighter in his time and he was proud of it, so naturally, he wanted his son to be the same. I felt I had lost so I felt like useless crap, that day was no doubt one of my very first shitty days. It was one of my first philosophical struggles as well.
I have to ask, did you ever had a philosophy class when in elementary school? I remember I just had ethics, and don’t remember much of it to be honest. Now that I think about it, it’s astonishing how we educate our children with biology and trigonometry first as if they were so important. Don’t misunderstand me, they totally are. But being the human beings we are and being human being practicing first and foremost, living, shouldn’t the art of living, which is philosophy, be of paramount importance in the earlier ages?
How do you deal with defeat being a kid? My fight, as of this moment, seems dumb and childish, but back then, for me, it seemed like the end of days, or at least it felt like it. I believed that losing equaled being a coward. I also believed that winning was everything and that my father wouldn’t love me or like me if his son was a loser. Losing was bad, losing was also cowardly in my head.
Oh Seneca, Oh Marcus, where were you back then? But then again, neither Marcus nor Seneca will ever be greater masters than experience itself.
I remember being afraid of losing, thinking that if I’d only knew, for a fact, that I was going to win, provided that I engage on a fight, I wouldn’t be afraid. But that’s not how it works, does it? I didn’t understand that the simple act of engaging, regardless of the outcome, was what made a man brave.
Winning or losing, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the action of saying yes to life, regardless of what life throws at you. Similar to the martial arts, if you think about martial arts as the means to kick someone’s butt, you are doing it very wrong. Martial arts don’t teach only fighting, but living as well. Marcus Aurelius said that living is more like fighting than dancing and he spoke the truth. Judo, for example, comes to my mind. In judo, you use your adversary’s punches and energies against himself. Wouldn’t you say that you do the same with life? Using hardship and defeat to craft yourself into a better sword.
20 years have passed since that titanic fight. You definitely become wiser, the perks of aging.
Today I tell you don’t hesitate in teaching wisdom to your sons and daughters, the world needs them more than ever. They themselves need it and will learn it by life or by you, why not give them a hand from early on? And hey, don’t hesitate from grabbing a book or two yourself, it will make your life easier and fun and amazing as well.
I have the perfect poem to end this post.
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