I love winning. And I hate losing. In my life of privilege, I have gotten pretty used to winning.
Ask my mom or my sister and they will both tell you as a young child I was a fighter. I never hit anyone, but I would argue and debate til the bitter end. Yes, as a seven-year-old, I was convinced I had it all figured out.
In addition to that kind of winning, I loved when the teachers would post our grades on the wall, only to discover my name was at the top of my class. In fact, my high school boyfriend and I had healthy competition on who would be ranked first in physics and who would rank second. It seemed to change every week.
As I entered college, my winning shifted from my class rank to flip cup and Mario Kart. I went to college in Boulder, CO. There were lots of drinking games and even more only-video-games-can-solve-this hangovers than I am willing to admit.
As a somewhat more mature adult, I don’t fight much at all anymore; I see no value in trying to change someone else’s mind. I have trained myself to not be so focused on my external rank and am a work in progress there. But, if you have a Nintendo Wii, I will absolutely still show you my skills as Yoshi on the ZipZip. The truth is I learn very little from winning. I rarely asked any questions or attempt to gain any new perspective. I just walk around like a peacock with her feathers out, self-assured and certain.
It is understood that we stand to grow the most by spending time on the things we don’t know we don’t know. If that is true, how do we figure them out? Well, by losing, of course.
In losing our balance, losing the chance at a big job, and even losing an election, we are given the chance to be curious, to notice our blind spots, and to try again with new perspective and conviction. You better believe I have never let Joel get a rematch after I win at Mario Kart- too risky!
Perhaps that is why challenging vinyasa flow still invigorates me, even though my mind and spirit are screaming for a restorative class. It will be one of the things I believe my career will be marked by- a belief that if we learn a lesson on the mat, it can transfer out into our lives. I learn the most on my mat by willingly doing what I don’t know if I can do.
In this moment of chaos, heartbreak, and even for a some, victory, I wonder if we can be more willing to lose, to learn the hard lesson, to begin again. Maybe not overturn the electoral college (though believe me, I am disappointed in the misalignment), but beginning the process of listening to one another and to learning more about those we often pass by without seeing. Just like ardha-chandrasana, lose your balance, pause for a moment to reflect**, and then get back in there with new found tenacity. Maybe you will win the next round, maybe you won’t, but at least you are willing to do the work.
**Let it be said, that in the school of yoga, our pause may simply be between the inhale and exhale, but in life, take as long a pause as you need. Some hits are harder for some than others. And if you have a friend waiting there for you, thank God as they reach their hand out to lift you back up again.