‘Cause You’ll Play Against You
“Games you can’t win, ‘cause you’ll play against you.” ~Doc Seuss
Last April 11th, I wrote about my old friend Karma. I love her dearly, in spite of the fact that she beat me to death once or twice. Bygones, sweetheart. 😉 With another year of reflection behind me, I can see that she was trying to teach me a much more valuable lesson than ‘Karma 101’. She’s a crafty one…
This year, I nearly decided to let April 11th pass without acknowledging it out loud. Nearly. I won’t forget, although I may someday let time swallow up the date from the calendar. Not just yet. The boy and I had a talk a few evenings ago that left me calling upon the wisdom of old Doc Seuss, but with my own little twist. Or addition? Interpretation? In any case, I decided it should be this April 11th’s topic…
“The only person that can defeat you, Buddy, is YOU. There are games you can’t win, because you’ll play against you. If you learn when you’re defeating yourself, you’ll never lose another fight. The hard part is realizing when you’re defeating yourself, and when you’re just getting beat.”
You are the only person who can defeat you. Doc Seuss and I wouldn’t lie to you.
In a distant story in a long ago struggle I was facing, I said, “Life is more often likely to test your character than your fighting skills. So even if you don’t swing a killer right hook, you passed the test the moment you balled up your fist, even if you didn’t knock anyone on their ass when you swung it.”
What the ‘fight’ does to you as a person, in the process of fighting for what you believe in, makes something of you that you cannot become if you choose not to fight for what you believe in. The outcome of whatever struggle you’re going through at the time is of lesser importance.
The only fight you’ll ever lose completely is the one you convince yourself you can’t win. You may convince yourself you may as well not even try, because you can’t win anyway, or you may convince yourself it’s a losing battle and you can’t win so it’s time to quit. These are games you can’t win, because you’re playing against you. Any fight you fight against people who aren’t you, you will win. You’ll win self respect. And that will take you to more victories far beyond today’s battle, no matter who it’s with, or why.
The really hard part is knowing when you’re really playing against you, and when those around you have played a role in convincing you to quit. I wish Doc Seuss had had time to write another book, because this part is tricky. It doesn’t matter whether those around you swayed you or tricked you or led you into believing that you couldn’t. YOU, at some point, decided that YOU couldn’t. And then you lost.
Sometimes those around us have good intentions. They don’t want to see us go off half-cocked on some foolish fight. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll lose us in or to the battle. They may even be frenemies who are hoping we’ll fail. No matter what, it’s up to YOU to decide whether you’re fighting the good fight, and to decide for yourself whether it’s worth starting, continuing, or spending your last breath perpetuating regardless of the inevitable outcome. You. Me. The boy. The girl. Inside each of us is where the battle is won or lost. I would much rather stand battered or lay dying after losing a battle fighting for something I believed in, than sit comfortably unharmed in defeat after choosing not to fight for what I thought was right.
I lost a really important battle once. I lost the battle because it was a no-win situation. For many years after that, I saw that defeat as also a defeat of my character. A failing. I thought that the outcome was the only part that mattered. In hindsight, I can see that what I gained in self respect by continuing to fight that losing battle was far more valuable than what I could have possibly gained if I had won the battle itself. I do have regrets from that time. I regret that I let others sway my resolve. I often thought they might be right about letting that battle go. At the time I just thought I was too bullheaded to let them sway me completely. Turns out I was simply stronger. But then again, history is written by the victor. I suppose the fact that I’m writing this story today settles those arguments.
Nowadays, when someone doesn’t understand my resolve or even implies that I’m being bullheaded without just cause, I pity them for having no resolve of their own. If they fail to approach the subject with proper tact, they are also likely to get a lengthy ‘talking-to’ as my kids call it. I rather enjoy that, as much as it takes out of me when it happens. What do I not do? I don’t let anyone sway my resolve. Ever.
What I want to tell my kids today, though, is that I won the fight in that battle, even though I lost the battle itself. Sometimes Karma’s consolation prize is vastly superior to the 1st place trophy you died trying to win. I know what I’m made of now, and so do the only two people on Earth who could possibly understand why I couldn’t let that one go. I hope that goes a long way, one day, toward them listening if I ever need to tell them that they’re defeating themselves.
Even if you lose a battle here and there, as long as you know you gave it your all, you’ll gain self respect that will help you beat the next villain. The more self respect you gain each time, the easier it will be to defeat those villains in the future. If you lose faith in yourself, the slightest wind will bowl you over, and each time you get bowled over because you had no faith in yourself, the harder it will be go get back up.
Which brings us back to… how do you know when you’re playing against YOU? How do you know whether it’s the voices around you echoing in your own thoughts, or if they’re truly your own thoughts? How do you know when to believe in yourself in spite of the odds?
It’s very simple. You always believe in yourself, and you only listen to those who tell you to believe in yourself. Everyone else is on the outside, and they should stay there. Even if you have to fight to keep them there… even if you have to fight YOU to keep them out. There are times that you can’t win because YOU let the enemy in. How do you know who is friend and who is enemy? It’s very simple. The enemy is anyone who tells you “that’s wrong” when you know in your heart it’s right.
There are games you can’t win, ‘cause you’ll play against YOU. You are the only person who can defeat you. Doc Seuss and I wouldn’t lie to you.
Cheers from The www.ThreeFiveZero.com Home