Today the USA played Belgium in the World Cup. It was a close game. Honestly, the US played really hard and really well. We made a few mistakes, yes, but on the whole it was a strong game. After the game ended people sighed with anguish, UGH, why did we not win? I've been thinking a lot about this question. Who are we when we're not winning, or feel we are not winning? What is our value?
I've been thinking about this because over the past few months I've been in a season of introspection. I've been thinking about who I've been in the years leading up to now and who I would like to be. I've been wondering what career path to take. Those of you who know me know that I've been doing an ever so delicate dance between a few fields for a few years. I've experienced a lot of frustration and shame as I've waited and waded through "what I should be when I grow up". I've wondered in my darkest moments if the worst things I've done and said are keeping me from my ideal career. I've feared that maybe I don't "deserve" a clear calling. I've wanted to "know". I feel like I'm not winning when I'm questioning. It's as if questioning is seen, in my own brain, as a limited space. It's seen as the weak (wo)man's no.
All this wondering has led me to ask the all important question, "Do you need to know?" I think that within our North American cultural context we are called into "knowing". We do not wish to take risks without this "knowing". We want guarantees to success, of happiness, or "rightness". I wonder though if this way of seeking leads us into unhappiness, indecisiveness, and ultimately into a place of diminished compassion and faith in others and ourselves.
I guess I want to reflect on a concept that Mike, dear Mike, and I were discussing and he wrote about recently, ABIDING. When we are constantly seeking "rightness", perfection, and guarantees we rob ourselves of the virtue of abiding. Abiding is patience, abiding is peace, abiding is trusting in the day to day. Abiding is believing that we are okay and more than okay. Abiding is simply living.
So as I reflect on the USA's loss to Belgium, I find myself imbued with an unusual patriotism. I remind myself that I, like the USA team have worked hard, have made big and small mistakes, have showed up, have a history and have a future. I am by no means perfect. I could be thinner, or heavier? I could be more prosperous. I could have had more integrity. I could have weathered pain more honestly. And yet, here I stand (sit) perfectly me, beautifully flawed. Winning is not the goal per se. My identity is founded in the day to day. It's founded in the way in which I love those closest to me. It's founded in my compassion. It's founded in my trust, in people, in the past (my wild, wild past), in the future, and in myself.
I'm realizing that, paradoxically, the best way to move into our future is to surrender. It's to show up and surrender. To be peaceful is to be in rightness.
So today I do not mourn the USA's loss, or my own path, or the paths of those around me. I am grateful for the opportunity to show up, to play, to fuck things up, to heal things, to score some goals, to let some go, and ultimately to sit back, have a beer, and marvel at it all.