Embracing the Zen of Losing One

You win some you lose some. What you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts. Dad used to try to tell us not to sweat the small stuff with these sayings but infact he only served to reinforce a strong ethic of ridiculous perseverance beyond what is even logical because he was the worst at giving up anything if he felt he was right. Being a baby boomer bloke, that was all the time. When he did temporarily lose a battle, he would re-group to re-strategise his general war on whatever was the current target of his ire or the focus of his energies. He could not be consoled with platitudes about winning and losing in the big game of life. Nope. The only thing that could marginally deflect the sting of defeat was to remind him that 'Every Dog has His Day'. Which would cheer him up, but it's hardly a Buddhist breathing in of love and loss and letting go – now is it? Being an old white guy – he knew that it is, in fact all about winning and sticking at things until you do. And to his credit – he is an old dog that has almost always had his day somewhere down the line even if he had to lose an eye to get there.

I have issues with losing too – I put it down to stubborn genes. Let's face it – most women in the early stages of the colony must have survived in their frozen little raupo huts somewhere past the black stump, boiling clothes in coppers, up to their knees in mud, simply due to a stubborn streak that refused to let them lie down and wait for a vision of the baby Jesus to arrive, or at least for washing machines to be invented. I've never bought into that old hippy mantra that it is good or in fact admirable to 'Go with the Flow.' I always thought that whoever had made that up had obviously not spent much time kicking around on a farm next to rivers and swollen creeks in winter. The careful observer will note that most things going downstream are going belly up – which is not really a great position to be rallying any kind of win from. I've also wasted a lot of time and quite a bit of money battling upstream with various projects, inspired by such mighty creatures as the salmon. Forgetting of course that salmon will admirably make it to their destination. And then they die. Hard to enjoy triumph when you're dead.

New Zealand culture in general seems to be one of a resigned complacency. Where the Latins go berserk and break out in random acts of flamboyant irrationalism in the face of losing things they believe in, Kiwis will generally accept the outcome as a fact not worth having an emotion over. A few weeks ago in a spectacular display of the very reasons why I miss Argentina so much, a group of commuters, outraged at the delays on the trains simultaneously and spontaneously took control of the train on two separate lines. They then pushed the drivers out of the moving trains and attempted to drive to the destinations themselves. No one was charged. No one was hurt and it was deemed a reasonable response. They had grown tired of talking to the company and losing the battle to be heard about the constant delays and had taken matters into their own hands. Kiwi commuters would have grumbled quietly and sent an email to Radio New Zealand. I have to add that the trains in Buenos Aires were completely halted for the 2 days following whereby no one went to work, so it is difficult to argue which response is more valid, but I know which one would have felt good.

I lost one of my pet projects this week – and am feeling a stalwart kiwi acceptance of it. I guess it's not wise to pay too high a price for anything. Even when you're not a salmon and, especially when you know that every dog, eventually, has her day.

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