Losing is an interesting word, and losing is an interesting and varied concept. You can lose something, you can lose a friend or partner, you can lose it in the sense of getting angry, and you can lose at sport or any kind of contest. You can lose in love. The list is quite long.
The definition competitive people will identify with the most is the concept of losing at sport or a contest. I am a terrible loser and nowadays avoid being competitive altogether just to escape the terrible but ridiculous sensation of having got fewer points than somebody else in relation to some kind of ball, for example. At school, I used to be beside myself if I lost, particularly if I was in a team and felt (unkindly) that other people had let the team down by not performing up to scratch (kids are harsh judges!). I remember being in floods of tears escaping off the netball court and running back to my dorm at school after such an event. It was hard, especially as I was used to winning absolutely everything at that age! Eventually you develop a kind of jokey attitude to it such as an England follower of any game usually must, and dry and mordant wit gets you through. Sometimes, though, it’s just too much to watch. Remember Andy Murray crying when he lost his first Wimbledon final (how Sue didn’t fling her arms round him, I don’t know!), or Jana Novotna when the serene Duchess of Kent spoke to her sympathetically and ended up giving her a graceful hug. Worse is when entire teams of footballers cry on the Wembley turf, having lost an FA Cup Final, their one shot at glory. One event I remember most vividly was during the 2012 Olympics when John Inverdale ended up by more or less crying with two British rowers who chokingly and haltingly explained that they felt they had let everyone down by coming second. Second! A Silver Medal! At the time, it was no consolation to them that it was a fantastic achievement (it probably still doesn’t seem so to them). It was bad enough that these young, manly guys were so upset but then when John Inverdale did the continuity handover in a voice about an octave higher than usual, I lost it (eyes are watering now!).
Also interesting is whether in the first place you actually ever owned or had what you now consider lost, but that’s too philosophical for this post.
It’s all just context, though, isn’t it. You only have to watch one news item where the cameras are going round the latest bombed city or town and some poor man is showing you what he’s lost: what used to be his house and where his family was killed. It makes you feel ashamed.
I’m sure Shakespeare has some sort of quotation on this dilemma, which most people often find themselves in, but I’m not aware of it. Louis MacNeice said it well:
“World is crazier and more of it than we think,
There’s no real answer, though. Just make the most of, and appreciate, what you have while you have it!
Since I wrote this two years ago, England have won the cricket World Cup, an achievement which still makes me marvel no matter how many times I replay Jos Buttler hurling himself towards those stumps on the final ball of the Super Over!