Friday, June 1, 2007

Sore Loser

Summer nights when I was young my brother Nate used to chase me around to smash lightning bugs across my t-shirt. I loved lightning bugs, and all he’d leave me with was their guts slashed across my shirt.

I was watching the dogs tonight, one chasing his ball, the other, the lightning bugs. The lightning bugs of 2007 fared much better than those of my past. No guts.

Watching the dogs occasionally compete for the same toy, and (once in awhile) my attention made me think about competition in my own life.

I’ve always been involved in sports, so you would think the competitive edge would be easy to come by. It’s not though. I can’t remember ever really caring if any of my teams won or lost. I can remember laughing behind my college crew coach’s back when he’d scream and get red-faced over 2nd place. Hello? Crew is HARD. 2nd place was okay with me.

As an adult, I took up running. Runners, as a lot, are incredibly competitive people, they compete against everyone informally and formally they compete against other runners in their age group, and their previous times. Again, I haven’t found this competitiveness in me. I was always happy to just be running. I still keep track of my times, sure, I know my average time per mile, know my last 8k, 10k, and marathon time as well as I know my own birthday. I might be faster next time. I might not. I may never race again. I’m okay with any of those options, as long as I can keep lacing up my orange running shoes and putting one foot in front of the other.

This feels a little dishonest though. The first individual competition I can remember was in 9th grade band. We were given a piece, told we would be individually tested for ‘chair’ placement. I was relentless. Test day. First chair. 6 months later – I quit band.

Fast forward.

Tae kwon do classes. Sometime in college (the first few years).
I worked in a group setting and one on one with a black-belt instructor who assured me I was ready to test for my first advanced belt.
I never did take that test.

It seems, that maybe I am competitive to the point that I just don’t want to lose. So I remove myself from the competition before losing becomes a real possibility.

Comparisons are great when you come out the winner, but the thing of it is, if you make a habit out of it, sooner or later, you’re going to come up short, or in other words, just plain lose.

It’s worth mentioning, I think, that I really don’t like what this says about me.


tiff said...

I'm only competitive when I'm in the lead. Otherwise, I don't really care. I'm not a "come from behind" kind of person, and I dont' really care if you're faster/stronger/better than me. All I can do is my best, as my Daddy once told me.

That, and I do not like who I am when I'm competitive. It scares me, so I just don't compete.

That much.


Biff Spiffy said...

Worth a look, this. Well said. Yeah, I'd like to think that you've simply found a way to deal with your competititiveliness.

Yes, crew is hard. Boy just finished his 2nd year, and had it much tougher than last year.

I was at a youth group cookout/ picnic where beach volleyball was in full swing. The games were intense, and everyone was having a good time, while serious about playing by the rules. The youth pastor sat himself out for a while because he was starting to care more about the game than the people he was playing with.

I think that's a pretty good standard to keep.

roo said...

also. there is great freedom and beauty in not giving a frig. maybe its about the journey sister.... cuz once you get there.... then what?

kenju said...

I hate to lose, so maybe that is why I am not competitive and was never into sports of any kind, except badminton (LO(L).

The only time I ever showed any competitiveness was during a game of computer Jeopardy with 2 friends of ours. That guy was/is convinced that he knows everything, so I was ecstatic to be beating him at it. I couldn't believe how much I wanted to win - and to beat him!!

Anne said...

Interesting way of looking at things. That's something to think about. Hmmmm.....

utenzi said...

Interesting post, Cravey. I really have a bad read on you. For some reason I've long had a feeling that you were very competitive so I was chagrined to read this post and see that I was wrong about you again. Of course, depending on how that last paragraph goes, maybe I wasn't completely wrong...

Lightning bugs are relaxing to watch--and to have a dog that chases them, that's just great.

Wordnerd said...

Um, I'm having a hard time concentrating because I keep looking around to see if you are going to tell us what you told the grieving ex when he called. I'm obsessive that way.