Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Thought du Jour: When You Lose

A quote for the day:
"You have learned something. That always feels at first as if you had lost something."
-George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara

Today my school's Granite State Challenge team lost in the semifinal round of the competition. Although we knew that we might lose, we did not expect that we would lose in the way that we did. We were ahead for Round 1, for Round 2, for Round 3, and for most of Round 4 too. Then, in the last five minutes of the game, the other team pulled ahead and tied it up. Then, in literally the last second of the game, they got the final question right- just as the buzzer rang to end the game. The final score was 295-285. We were in shock. Never in a million years would I have predicted that outcome. To their credit, the other team were wonderful sports about it. They reached down immediately and shook the hands of all our players, the coaches and alternates congratulated us on a wonderful game, etc. But we were absolutely stunned. Two of our guys, Erik and Kevin, leaned back hard on the wall behind them almost simultaneously. How we felt was beyond words. The look on their faces made me want to go over and just hug them, tell them how wonderful they were.
The same thing happened on the bus home. We were analyzing the game, as we almost always do, but it was different this time. We weren't analyzing what we did well as much, but we we didn't do that could have prospectively won us the game. The atmosphere was, once again, almost indescribable. We had played a wonderful game, a spectacular game- but we lost. We weren't mad, we weren't upset or distraught--just disappointed. Not in how we played, but in the fact that we lost. Something inside us just knotted up.
But still, we remember how we started out not wanting to do anything other than try. And we exceeded all expectations so far beyond anything we anticipated that we can have no regrets. Indeed, I sit here remembering William Borden, who wrote in his Bible, "No Reserves. No Retreat. No Regret" at different times in his life. "No reserves" when he was just starting out. "No retreat" when he was getting discouraged or pushed by family and friends to go back on what he was doing. "No regret" right before he died.
We've developed a real camaraderie on the team, too. We're all friends now. Today, when we got back to school, a guy met us in the lobby and when we told him what happened, he went "Erik!" because Erik is basically our ringer, our star. And we jumped on him for that, told him that we couldn't have expected any more of him than what he had already done. It's a loyalty that has developed out of the situation we've been in together. It's something special, that I can really treasure and appreciate.
Now we look to the future. None of us really wants to just say, "We're done," and quit. We're going to grovel and really try to get on the team next year, but in the meantime we're not quitting. We're going to see about going into another Quiz Bowl, somewhere else in the state. We go forward.

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