When I joined a Facebook group called 'Hopeful Losers', this is what a friend had to say about it -
"I wish there was a dislike button! Am not for the term winners and losers! Not winning does not take away anything from the achievement - which loser seems to signify! "
For awhile, I was taken aback by the reply. Since when did joining a group of people wanting to support each other in their weight loss plans have anything to do with winning or losing, or not maintaining a sense of achievement. If you really look at it, losing weight can be a really big achievement for most people, so why the tone of the response? And the fact that she is a person who often
thinks like I do only complicated issues further.
Then the penny dropped. Not knowing the purpose of the group, and the play of words in coming up with the name, she had missed the entire point. And in any other context, losing is something I normally even think about. Not because I always win, but because I realise that there are degrees of achievement, and not 'winning' doesn't mean you have not necessarily achieved something.
Last Sunday, when I came home from the marathon proudly flaunting my medal, my older one asked me if I had won the race. I told him that in all probabliltiy, I had come last - not too many people were likely to have finished after I did. He wanted to know why I had been given a medal when I hadn't won, and I told him that only about a thousand of the 3,000 people who were at the start finished the race. I had got the medal for finishing, even if I did not win.
"But did you win?", he persisted.
"In my own way, I did", I assured him. "I did not think I could finish and yet I did. To me, that is winning."
The next day, I showed him the photograph of Dennis Ndisso, the Kenyan who won the race in a time half an hour less than I would take to run half the distance. He looked at the man for a few minutes, then said, "He looks like the man with the Golden Shoe (Usain Bolt, who blazed the tracks in the last Olympics)". I had to admit that there was some similarity. "He won the race. And you also ran the same race?", he asked eyes wide with surprise.
"Yes", I told him. I even saw him, and clapped when he passed by (the elite atheletes started an hour after us mortals did, and he passed us within 30 minutes of starting).
"You ran the same race as him?"
The hug my son gave me said it all. Even at six, he now understands there are many types of winners, and that his mother too was one of them.
When I thought about it, I realised my friend was right. "Not winning does not take away anything from the achievement - which loser seems to signify!" Not winning is just a different type of winning.