Life Lessons Football Can Teach Us (An Occasional Series)
Part 1: The Sweetness of Victory Does Not Outweigh The Bitterness of Defeat
Last week my team got crunched by some cheeky up-and-comers. This week, we bulldozed an undermanned and reeling interstate team at home. It was nice enough. But it doesn't erase the pain and outrage of the shocking loss the week before.
Winning feels good. But losing feels really, really bad. When the Western Bulldogs finally win a premiership, will it really make up for the fifty, or sixty or seventy years of disappointment, anguish, heartache, betrayal, sorrow and grief that have gone before? How good could it actually be? Especially when you wake up the next morning and know that you have to start fighting all over again, for the next one?
I guess if I was actually a member of the team, maybe the player who kicked the winning goal on the final siren to seal the victory, I might have a different perspective. But think about it. Once upon a time, I vowed, if I ever get a book published, just one book, I will never be unhappy again. If I could win a literary prize, or get short-listed for a prize, I will never complain again. If I get a boyfriend... if I have a baby...
Well, I've done all those things and they are all wonderful, but the high fades away. Achievement is no guarantee of permanent happiness.
Unfairly, though, it seems the reverse is not true. The bad reviews and rejections and defeats still hurt, even though logic suggests that the pain should be wiped away by the joy of accomplishment.
So what can we draw from all this, class? This is what I think: it's a mistake to tie your emotional and mental health to any notions of "success" or "failure." Enjoy the little things in life, and pin your joy to them. In football terms, we should enjoy the spectacle of the game - celebrate individual acts of courage or skill - relish the small acts of sacrifice when the team works together - laugh at the freakish or the slapstick - scream with excitement. But don't let the result determine our mood for the whole of the next week, or season, or a lifetime.
Lucky I'm not an AFL coach!