A true competitor’s worst opponent is one who doesn’t believe in loss. Without loss there can be no victory, just as without failure there can be so success. A true competitor seeks the most from life, but through the misperception that life can ever be less than it already is. Thus the myth of loss, the belief that something can be taken from us, can be taken from life itself, that the loser has less than the winner. This is the agreement about life true competitors shake on before engaging in battle. It is an agreement sustained regularly throughout society but agreed upon again just to be sure, for the competitor comes to the field in hopes of vanquishing the loser within himself whom he now calls his opponent. But even in victory the loser lives on within the competitor, for without him the victory just won means nothing.
You may have guessed that I have lived as a true competitor. My wife has not. Playing backgammon with her was like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. For her loss lay elsewhere, and when I would listen to her tales of what she feared she no longer had, I would despair. She was supposed to save me from my wretchedness. Fortunately, she was unable to do so, for she could not recognize the wretch, just as I could not see what she had lost.
I was a romantic boy, and I’d heard that it was my job was to win a girl’s heart. This concept appealed to the competitor within me, but was anathema to another part of me, the part that knocked upon her door. I wished instead for her to simply give to me by choice what I believed she had, as I to her, for in love what is given is only increased. Such is the most we actually seek, the gifts from others that in receiving are returned.
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