Friday, February 26, 2016

Permission to be Human

I have to wonder if our competitiveness is our nature or by nurture?

Recently I watched a story unfold that made this question even more confusing.

A friend was scheduled to play in a squash match against someone who he had never beaten. The same friend is a very talented player whose major obstacle to enjoying the game or winning for that matter is his emotions.  Loosing a match triggers such intense anger, that he now wonders if he should even be paying competitive squash.  It wasn't until the last moment that he decided to play this match.  He desperately did not want experience this anger. But desperately wanted to beat this person. This keen awareness of his emotions gave him enough comfort to play the match

He came out of the gates guns blazing.  He was in the Flow!  Playing better squash then he ever had, much to the surprise of his long time nemesis.  Soon enough he was up 2 games to love. They were both tired, but two different kinds of tired.  An offense tired and a defense tired.

My friend lost the 3rd game, which ended on a call from the referee he disagreed with.  Sometime during this game his emotions had been activated, we could tell from the gallery.  But he was still in the lead and his opponent was against the ropes.

A few points into the 4th game, he lost a point and turned to his opponent shook his hand and told him he was defaulting! His opponent and the gallery looked on dazed and confused.  My friend walked off the court noticeably riled up, shook hands with the ref and walk off to the side and sat down on the ground.

To concede a match of this magnitude while being in the lead, and while playing as best as one has ever played is earth shaking.  A decision like this turns on its head everything we believe in when it comes to competition.  It requires self-awareness and self-regulation rarely seen in this day and age.

This behavior brings to conversation a reality that has been hard for many cultures to accept until recently.  And even now acceptance is not ubiquitous.  If my friend had torn a hamstring, it would have been perfectly understandable to retire and concede the match.  In this case his injury was cerebral.  He recognized a destructive change in his mind, that would cause even more damage if he continued.  And he acted accordingly in spite of what people might think or misunderstand.

My friend is 18 years old and I think his behavior bodes well for the future of humanity!

My eyes have opened a bit wider, my heart is a bit softer.  And know that what I don't know is much bigger then I thought, but I look forward to discovery.

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