Monday 7 December 2020

Thought Picnic: Participation begets the victories in life

Battlefield victories

Listening to the radio this morning, there was a discussion on humour and laughter that brought opinions and viewpoints from many perspectives of culture, gender, location and experiences.

In one of the exchanges, a comedienne of mixed heritage was chatting to her mother who had had a severe stroke with the likelihood of imminent death. Even under the strain of the ordeal, she could still communicate though quite laboured.

The comedienne asked her if she was afraid and her mother answered that she was not afraid and was never afraid in her life, then conveyed a lesson in life that resonated with me in the first hearing without the need to rewind the broadcast. “You don’t get to speak of victories if you have not been on the battlefield.”

Missing nothing

In that statement was a story and a life of experience that we have to be careful to learn attentively. What you have neither tried nor participated in cannot give you experience. Yet, I do realise that when people say to me, “You don’t know what you are missing.” Usually, to persuade me to do what I am not inclined to do, my retort is, “I can’t miss what I do not know or don’t want to know anything about.” What I am not persuaded of, I will not be persuaded about.

Then again, in life, there are things that require our participation because circumstances compel us, or the need arises to progress or to just to save or redeem ourselves. It would not work to be defeatist before we have been tried or tested. If we are a defeated, there are lessons for the next trial and if we are victorious, we have the opportunity beyond the lessons learnt to advance to the next challenge.

Temporary setbacks

In a conversation with my cousin that lasted nothing short of 3 hours altogether from learning of the demise of a close relation to the ennoblement of another, other topics composed of reminiscences going back over 4 decades, one other nugget of wisdom that has helped me in my toughest times was recalled. “An opportunity once lost can be regained after a temporary setback.” This was shared with us one evening by a tenant who I learnt had since passed away.

We were taught that in antiquity that an opportunity once lost can never be regained, as if everything and all was lost and we should sink into despair, be lost in the defeat from which we can never recover.

Making heroes

The truth is life is rarely like that, we have guts, we have nerve, we have chutzpah, we have verve, we have hope, we have spirit, we have than never-say-die drive that one defeat or even many failures are just hurdles. We review, reassess, realign, retry, redo, rejig, repeat, we determine that we would rather die trying than never to have tried at all.

In battlefields, many do die in the cause, in fact, many do die for their country and they are considered heroes. Then one general said to his troops, “It is noble to die for your country, but we are in this battle to make the enemy die for their country, in their becoming heroes we gain the victory even if we are not celebrated as heroes after winning.” Somewhere in this is another perspective to life’s challenges, the need to challenge traditions for different and better outcomes.

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