I remember a quote by Dominic Toretto in the first Fast and Furious movie. What a great movie by the way! I watched recently and after almost 20 years, it holds up. So, here goes the quote: “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning.” He delivers that line after winning a hard-fought race. That quote has resonated with me ever since its utterance. Dominic Toretto played by a young and quite magnetic Vin Diesel is a mesmerizing character. We want to be him and see him win even if he isn’t the good guy in the movie. He isn’t an evil man either, which is where our loyalty is tested. Toretto has never lost a race, according to him but I am sure he has.
So, the quote. I only agree with the “winning is winning” part. There is no denying who the winner is because every contest always ends with a victor and a loser, that is how the game is played. Yet, in America, in their hyper-competitive, self centered, self aggrandizing and capitalistic world, the only thing that counts is winning. It is about being number one. Damn the losers! No one cares about them. Even Nelly had a song about it in which he explicitly says “What does it take to be, number one? Two is not a winner and three nobody remembers”. Now, that is a statement!
I also happen to remember the Romans who had a similar quote, which predates all the others: “Vae Victis” which translates into “woe to the vanquished/conquered”, simply implying the losers are at the victors’ mercy. Moreover, it meant no quarter or leniency were to be expected. As ugly as it sounds and as it was, that meant rape, murder, enslavement would follow once the battle ended.
Being on the winning side sounds gratifying, whether it was in ancient times or today, whether it is in business or in school or in a foot race or any other contest. There is so much emphasis on winning as there should be. Yet, what about the loser(s)? If you win by a mile, you are by far the superior opponent and a hard one to beat. What if you win by an inch? That is a mere 2.5 centimeters, that is practically nothing. Probably given a change in the variables, you might just lose but you didn’t. I get it. Yet, a win by an inch, is almost not a win if you ask me. If I win by an inch, I will not have bested my opponent, I will consider us almost equals but that is my opinion anyway. Personally, that means you aren’t that much better than your opponent. If I see you parading after winning by 2.5 centimeters, you are getting a smile but no claps.
I guess I speak for the losing side. I have lost quite a few times in my life, in all areas, and each time defeat smacked me in the face, it hurt profoundly. I remember each defeat as if it happened yesterday. So, today I want to talk about the losers. One basic thing about winning: it usually comes late. Before a first win, there is a myriad of defeats. That is how the world is. No one ever wins in their first try. It might happen but I guarantee you, chance plays more of a role than skill does. Winning comes after a grand collection of defeats, I assure you.
Today, I want to talk to the losers. I want to talk to those who are inadequate but who are still working hard, because they want to make it, because they believe in themselves, because they are willing to put in the effort. Losing doesn’t mean you didn’t try. Losing doesn’t mean you will never make it. Losing isn’t to be ridiculed. Sure, sometimes the manner in which one loses can bring out a scoff or ridicule but that shouldn’t discourage anyone. Sadly, it does. We all would prefer giving up rather than being mocked for failing at a given task.
I have lost. The Gods only know how many times I have lost and how humiliating those defeats were, to stronger and lesser degrees. Losing built my character whether I care to admit it or not. I have lost people, I have broken up with people, I have lost money (I’d say quite a lot to be honest), I have been fired, I have been expelled from school for below than average grades, I have lost my hair (it isn’t that dramatic but worth pointing out!), I have lost games, I have lost my way as well on a few occasions. My life has many subcategories and a folder full of defeats is in there. I am not ashamed of my defeats, I am not ashamed to have finished second, third or so far down the line that I barely remember competing. I speak for those who have lost, not losers. The latter implies the person loses at everything and cannot get their life together. I speak for everyone who loses every so often.
I have known defeat and frankly, I still collect them. Yet, here I am. Not because I am special (I am not) or stubborn (that I am I admit it) or a maniac (I am a bit) or a superhero (I am so not!) but because I learn something each time I lose. There isn’t anything more cliché than this mentality, yet, I believe in it because I have seen it work. Today’s mistakes, defeats, losses are tomorrow’s lessons. That is the way I see life. I write a text, it is full of mistakes, people let me know. That is a loss, in the way that my work wasn’t done well, but it is a lesson that translates into writing better in the future. I hurt someone’s feelings because of something I said, and I get reprimanded for it. That is another lesson for me, to talk better, to be more considerate, to be more empathetic and less of a jerk.
Losing is never the main problem. We all lose. The thing that counts is what you do after your loss. Do you pack up and leave or do you learn from it? There is always a lesson into everything you do in life.
May you find the fortitude and the courage to learn and move on. Winning is winning but losing is not the end of the world. To quote the great Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Just one man’s opinion.
Now, smile and go on with your day.