in praise of losers

Okay, I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the misunderstanding, the vilification, the attacks. I’m tired of certain people on certain social-media platforms at certain stupid hours of the morning who wield the word “loser” as though it’s an insult or an accusation. As though there’s something wrong with losing. As though losers have some reason to feel ashamed.

Let me tell you something: It isn’t. It isn’t. We don’t.

Yes, “we.” I include myself in that category. I am a LOSER AND PROUD, dammit. There would be no charity, no sacrifice, without losing. There would be no Christianity without losing (JESUS, HELLO? ARE YOU WINNING YET?). There would be no room in this world for anything but arrogance and ambition and “triumph,” or some narrowly defined misconception that means vanquishing every last soul who disagrees with you.

There would be no humility without losing. There would be no humor. There would be no love. Thank God I’m a loser! I’d be miserable and cheerless as anything but! It’s a fusty old maxim, and I roll my eyes as I type it, but it’s true: No love without loss. No way of opening ourselves to the ecstasy of one without risking the anguish of the other. Everyone who loves long enough and well enough to bury a dear one is a loser, and every loser is a witness to all that matters in this life. Don’t listen to the winners. They don’t know.

Everyone who makes a decision based on something besides money: loser. Everyone who works a low-paying job because it’s interesting or it’s necessary or it helps someone else: loser. Everyone who pursues an art as a calling, not as a quest for celebrity: loser. Everyone who uses up their sick days to care for an aging parent or a child or themselves: loser.

Losers have stick-to-it-ive-ness. Losers have strength. Losers have courage. That homeless guy slumped on the corner, asking for money? That soul wrestling with depression and anxiety, somehow making it through another day? That person in a wheelchair, navigating steps and inclines and obstacles and potholes the rest of us barely notice? They are fearlessness personified.

At some juncture in this life, everyone encounters loss. If you don’t, you’re not wholly human. You haven’t fully lived. Or you have, but you can’t really acknowledge it — because you aren’t entirely aware, stuck on this wrong notion that losing is somehow a bad thing, somehow an ignominious deviation from the norm, somehow something to be mocked. (You want to have some fun? Google “loser” and “stock photos,” and see what pops up in the results.)

Losing IS the norm. Losers R Us! Losers Rule! (No, wait. . . ) Like so many of my fellow losers, I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve lost some more and I’ve loved in spite of it. I’m not wealthy, not powerful, not chauffeured around on a gilded glide through life, just some schmo in a shrinking industry who bought a used Corolla last week and was PUMPED, PUMPED to drive it off the lot — which makes me the textbook definition of a loser.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

6 thoughts on “in praise of losers

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