It is a beautiful thing to lose.
Today I was running along my usual pre determined route, one which, without sounding too big headed, often involved me weaving between slower runners as I sped past them. This morning, however, I was running and something happened which freed me from a prison of subjective conformity which I had begun to slide into.
This prison is one in which the pace is always, at best, slightly faster then comfortable and at worst within the realms of a enjoyable stroll across the sea front. This realization came in the form of a female, roughly my age and wearing pink shorts. As I was running, I glanced to my left as something crept into my peripheral vision, before a flash of colour passed in front of me. She was bounding away from my location and galloping into the distance, I began to increase my pace to keep up. It is something I felt compelled to do as I was not used to this. I ran and ran, managing to keep up with her for a few kilometres, then the pace became intolerable. I had dropped into a 6 minute mile pace, which was frightening for me. It was then that I gave up chasing her and reduced my speed. I felt defeated so I slowed down to gaze into the sea, feelings of anger, envy and jealousy brooding in my soul. And then I realised something. This was not a bad thing. In fact it was a brilliant thing.
This defeat, so to speak, was another reminder for me to stay humble. A reassertion that my skills, no matter how great they became, were always going to be subject to scrutiny from people who were further along the journey to mastery than I was.
That may sound like I lack confidence, but this could not be further from the truth. A certain measure of self awareness, especially in sports or other competitive activities, is a reciprocal relationship between individuals gauging and interpreting feedback. Becoming emotional about a victory or defeat serves no advantage because it clouds the event and as such, would limit my ability to effectively analyse the lessons I could learn from it. For me, getting schooled in a run by a stranger was not embarrassing, there was no need for me to get emotional about what happened. It was merely an event. It is up to me to interpret whatever happened.
If we want to become better people, we must know what it feels like to lose or to be in the presence of someone who surpasses our own skill level to such a degree that our abilities pale into insignificance. This is something which should be cherished, it provides a keyhole to the future, to a vision of what you could be capable of becoming if you stay focused.
Getting surpassed was a reminder to stay disciplined, focused and driven towards the task at hand, The mind is apt to wander off on tangents and is highly susceptible to the trivialities stuffed down our throats by this excessive consumer culture. However, the mind, once focused, is the greatest weapon we as humans have in our arsenal. If it is truly focused then the mind can will the body to do almost anything.