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What Can We Learn From Our Losses?

Updated on November 3, 2018
A sunset on the Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada
A sunset on the Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada | Source

I just finished playing a video-game online with some other people. The score was a tie between the two teams, with four minutes until the end. My team made a push for it and we were able to score with just a minute and a half left in the game. Thus, we won. Barely but we won.

I thought about the idea of “never give up until the end”. I know it to be true and I was glad that I still put that idea into practice. Sure, this was just a game but I act the same way whether I play a game, or not. At the same time, I thought: “Okay, that’s the lesson from the winning side but what about the other team? What could they learn from that loss?”

Well, they could learn the same lesson: “never give up until the end” but also from that is the lesson that “one should work hard until the end, having no expectations”. Expectations are never helpful. They can be deceiving and sometimes they themselves can lead to losses, if for example one thinks they won a game before the end. A loss can come unexpectedly, for many reasons. So, we should always keep going in whatever we do with focus and determination.

For better or worse, I have had many losses along the way. Just before turning sixteen, I lost my mother to leukemia. That was perhaps the hardest loss to go through for me because I didn’t think it would happen and I never contemplated the possible consequences of such a situation. The loss was a brutal shock and one which took many years to even comprehend, never-mind healing from it.

I learned a lot of things from that experience. I learned about not taking things for granted. I learned that in a matter of a few years someone can go from healthy to dead. Sorry to be blunt but that’s how things went. This lesson was reinforced when my friend Sam passed away at the age of twenty-eight from bone cancer. He went from healthy to gone in a few years as well. The lesson to always appreciate those around You because You never know when they go, was evident. The lesson came from death but I am still thankful. I am always thankful for lessons, no matter how difficult the experience was. Waking up to a nurse telling You that your mother passed away and seeing that her chest was no longer going up and down, that there was no breath in her body … that was not easy. Nonetheless, I learned many things.

After that experience, I had to learn how to cook. I learned to take care of myself a little more, in all aspects of life. That experience pushed me to become a little more independent because: “We never know when people close to us go”. And as one of my friends said, ultimately: “I was born alone and I will die alone”. It is a truth in life, except for some twins who are born more, or less at the same time.

I lost many other things which I learned from. One important lesson was when a few years ago, I fractured my shin. I went from being a fairly active person, to hopping on one foot, from the couch to a chair, by my work/play desk. One quick lessons I learned, was that I couldn’t carry a four liter milk bag. That was a hard lesson to learn and accept, as I drink four liters of milk every three days. I learned all about walking with crutches. I learned about injuries. I learned about physiotherapy (I never went to the doctor – I healed my leg on my own). I learned that many people are nice and will hold the door for those who are visibly injured. I am thankful for those people and for the lessons learned.

I lost friends to suicide. My brother-in-law is someone who took that path. I learned a lot from him because we talked a lot before he took his own life, on many occasions. He sat with me here in this room and we talked about life. We talked about death and pain and happiness and many other things. I am not upset at him and although his death affected my entire family, I am still thankful for the lessons learned. No matter how much we try, we will never be able to change the mind of someone who wishes to die. We can try to help certainly but we cannot fully prevent a suicide from happening. Those who wish to go will go. The rest of us need to accept that, no matter how uncomfortable such situations are. With that in mind, I am happy and thankful that the Canadian government has legalized voluntary euthanasia, a couple of years ago.

Another major loss that I have experienced in the recent past is the loss of identity. Nobody stole my identity. I just lost most of it along the way. A Romanian friend of mine pointed that out when I met him in the UK a few years ago. He mentioned that I have an accent when I speak Romanian.

“What do You mean I have an accent,” I asked curiously.

“You just sound like You’re not Romanian” he responded plainly.

Well, that’s what people say here in Toronto when they talk to me: that I have an accent. Most ask if I am Quebecois because I have a “French accent”. Well, I was Romanian at some point (legally I still am). I have the paper-work to prove it. Haha!! That doesn’t matter. The perception that I am not Romanian seems to pop-up when Romanians hear me speak and when I speak English people ask me where I am from. The only reasonable answer to that would be: Earth. I am from Earth.

That’s the lesson learned after realizing that I’m not really Romanian, or Canadian. My identity, in this three dimensional perspective (not speaking in spiritual terms) is tied to this planet on which we are living. I actually feel part of it. This doesn’t mean that I stopped listening to Romanian folk music, that I no longer cook Romanian food or that I do not read Romanian articles. I do. It’s just that I am much more than Romanian, or Canadian. Let’s just say that I see it as: I’ve been growing and changing and those are lessons too. We often have to lose things in order to grow and transform. With no change/loss, the caterpillar never becomes a butterfly.

In my opinion, we can take some positive lessons from any circumstance we find ourselves in. It doesn’t matter if that circumstance is perceived as good, or bad. There are always lessons to be taken away, for those who seek knowledge and wisdom. Don’t stay too comfortable amigos. Too much comfort leads to stillness and eventually decay. Search for knowledge and know that every loss has lessons to give, many lessons. I for one am thankful.

All the best to everyone!


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