Shoot the Ball, Part II. Learning to Lose.

Life is not a game or a competition. I think the best analogy I have heard is that it is a journey. And even that suggests a linear path that has not come to fruition in my own personal life. Life just is. But I like to think of things in terms of sports because I love watching sports. Sports are fun. And they are a good excuse to hang out with family and friends. I’ve written before about shooting the ball. So, I will employ the sports analogy a little longer. 

There are layers to lessons.

So what brings me here today? Loss. You have to learn to lose. And what does that mean? For me losing means playing your ass off, leaving it all on the court, following all the rules, and still losing the game. It could be completely out of your control. Injuries happen. Mental illness is real. And the reality is that some goals and visions in life aren’t achievable by fair play, faith, integrity, and hard work. That can be a hard pill to swallow. But for me, even that’s acceptable because you gave it all you had with what was available to you. It just was not meant for you.

It gets deeper than that though, there are layers to the lessons.

The harder pill to swallow is when you play poorly and lose. When you go out on the court and lack integrity, or aren’t faithful and don’t give your all. One of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn is loving myself when I don’t play well. The moments when I don’t think it all the way through correctly, and I’m too spontaneous or I take risks with low payout. Or maybe when I act on emotion without thinking things through. Those decisions that make you cringe in hindsight.

The games you show up for poorly focused, ill-prepared, and exhausted because sometimes it happens. That’s life. (Especially in the middle of a global pandemic.)

Not everything that glitters is gold. 

It’s a lesson my mother and her mother drilled into me from an early age but the reality is that I’m not always gold either. How do you adequately take responsibility for when you just haven’t done right? 

Sometimes I’m rotten. Spoiled. And unrepentantly idealistic to the point of hopeless romanticism. Sometimes I think too far ahead of myself, or I don’t think far ahead enough. There are other times I just don’t prepare when I know that preparation is what I need more than anything else.

But embracing myself even in the lowest of those moments, allowing myself space and grace to truly flounder has been challenging for me well into adulthood. 


Because I always want to play well. Regardless of if there is any winning involved. I like making educated decisions that make sense considering the information available at the time. I like being prepared for the game. 
But, sometimes I mess that up.

There are levels to admitting that too.

The first being acknowledging that something is in fact wrong. And that second being acknowledging that the wrong is indeed my doing. Then being willing to say, oh well. That’s alright. If we play that hand again, we will play it differently. Regardless, we love me. 

Let’s push it further.

What does my play really say about where I am versus where I want to be? If growth is the goal, then there has to be a moment where we recognize our behavior as an extension of what we are lacking in fortitude or character. And I think the key is being ok if you are lacking sometimes. Maybe even embracing that God has placed you in a position to fail because that win ain’t what it looks like.

Because we already know that not everything that glitters is gold. 

Making big mistakes as an adult is a part of taking big risks. Brené Brown really broke that down for me and I committed to wholehearted living long ago. But living wholeheartedly leaves you vulnerable sometimes. And to be quite honest, it’s a path ridden with fuck ups because you don’t always know where to steer and it can feel pretty dark. 

2020 has blown my mind on so many levels.

The atmosphere is literally shifting around us on a planetary level. War is everywhere. The most populated country just had the biggest protest in world history. America is Biden time with Trump.  Even the viruses are revolting. Fighting us and killing us

I can hear my granny now, “when it rains it pours.” 

My belief in my God has centered me. Music still sustains me. And poetry continues to feed me. Life still moves in its uniquely relentless way. The sun comes up every single day, even if shadowed by clouds or gray with rain. It rises and sets as if everything is the same. We wake up every day, we go to work, we care for children, we take classes, we read, eat, and pray.

Life goes on, even in the rain. 

So let it fucking rain. With tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, as long as the blood pumps through my veins, and I have His Grace… I’m going to be here.


And it is that time of the year to hit me with submissions for the Spring run. 

The Herstun Writer will become a blog focused on community, stories, and art again. Many of the categories we have now will be relocated to new sites, with new moderators or just plain ole me at the helm. 

I’m excited to see what I can create. But I’m more excited to get back with some old favorites like Prosserville, check-in with Aamir Ali, Flow, and meet some new people and families too. 

I do believe it is time for President Donald J. Trump to concede his loss to President-Elect Joseph R. Biden and move up out of the American people’s White House. It will be interesting to see how he handles this loss, I do believe that this not the end of his political journey.

This entire post was inspired by a meme that I saw on Facebook about teaching our children how to lose and what to do in loss rather than constantly rewarding them for winning. It really made me re-evaluate the different ways we lose and the ways we deal with ourselves after a loss.

I want to believe that it’s okay to lose and make mistakes. But the reality is that there is a very small margin for error most of the time. While you will always have another chance to play, there may be a moment where you have to concede the loss for that day or that event or that goal and the question is, how do you handle that? What is your next move?

It’s another one of those character defining things.

#LetsGrow #LoveAlways

Published by W.D. Herstun

Editor-in-Chief. Curator. Dreamer. I want to bring people together, one story at a time. Sometimes, we all just need a little perspective. The arts & humanities can help us regain humanity and change the world. Believe that. Achieve that. #LetsGrow

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