Friday, December 7, 2012

Losing To Win

When we moved to the Big Woods, I had never been north of the Mason-Dixon. Everything was so strange, and new, and confusing. But I had one advantage... I knew how to play cribbage. My Dad started teaching me when I was eight, and he has infinite patience. When he was growing up, you couldn't play unless you knew how, and nobody would teach him, so he had to learn by watching. With me, he took me through every step, taught me which cards to keep, which to throw, and would kindly point out the points I'd missed (In official games, whoever sees the points gets them, but he always lets me keep the points I don't see).

At that time, my Dad was unwell and often bedridden, and we would play several times a day, and each time he would win. I knew he wasn't keeping some secret strategy from me - he had told me all the right plays and smart moves. A major part of your points comes simply by what you are dealt, so I knew I couldn't rely on that to propel me to the winner's circle. It was going to take practice, and time, and learning how to make the best of what you're given. I'll never forget that moment when I put my peg into the finish circle ahead of Dad and knew I had won, fair and square, on my own two feet. 

You see, all those games I lost didn't go to waste, because they were teaching me how to play the game. What to do, what not to do, which chances to take, what choices to make. Those games were the ones that moved me from novice to an equal on the playing field. I think life has the same strategy... we have to try so many times, and most of the time we feel like we're failing, but we're really just training ourselves to be stronger, last longer, and to one day succeed. This goes for whether you are trying out for a job, working on a relationship, or simply trying to make it to the next day. I believe there is no such thing as wasted time, as long as we learn a lesson from that time. 

So, how does a game of cribbage affect your life? Keep trying. Learn what works, and what doesn't. Realize that while you are losing, you are learning how to win. And someday, you'll be able to put your peg into the finish circle and say, "I did it! I finally did it!" 

By the way, we went to a game night tonight, and I'd just like to thank E. for playing cribbage with me and being a good sport when I won. Twice. 

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