Watching a World Cup match, liking both teams!
Yesterday, I was talking to one of my friends and she mentioned that her daughter was watching the Germany-Portugal match. And she remarked that for once it didn't matter who won, since her daughter liked both teams!
Now, that is an absolutely wonderful outlook to have, while sitting down to watch a match. It doesn't matter who wins, as long as it is a good match. At the end of the day, after all it is only a match - not a matter of life and death.
But unfortunately, in reality, matches often become just that - a matter of life and death. How often have we sat in front of TV sets with enough anger to strangle the neck of an opposition player as he carried his team to victory? Victory that he had no real business with; victory that should have been rightfully ours. And then we hear stories of players being abused, stones being pelted at the houses of players when they have had a bad day. I find it all very sad.
There's a lot to talk about the benefits of looking at matches in that detached way, watching with the sole intent of enjoying a match. But maybe all would not agree. How can it be a sport if there is no passion, no real desire to win-at-all-costs? And so maybe, for the sake of argument, we could make a case for how this extra competitive outlook could actually be beneficial to sports; we could argue about how watching sports in a detached manner, without being a fanatical supporter of any one team, beats the whole point of watching sports. But that's enough material for a complete discussion on its own.
But to me, I found that remark very interesting, because when I heard that particular comment, it pointed me to a very important life lesson. A lesson that I had learnt (hopefully!) but I had not really been able to place a finger on.
Too often in life, we are faced with the prospect of watching or taking part in a match so to say, where we invariably have a tendency to lean towards one perspective; in other words, lean towards one particular team. And when things do not turn out the way we would have liked, when our "team" loses, there is almost always a big impact on us. We get disappointed, we get emotional, we get depressed. Some of us handle the loss reasonably well, but then there are some of us who unfortunately are not able to handle it all that well - and we carry the scars of that loss for a long time.
I dare say that life will be much more pleasant and meaningful if we can learn to support both teams.
My earliest and strongest memory of losing a match was when, for my tenth standard examinations, I could not score the marks that I had thought (and more importantly, those around me thought!) I should rightfully get. And so when I lost that match, it was not easy. And to a young teenager, who has grown up to believe that losing such a match meant that your whole life had ended - it was a very big deal. But looking back, from the benefit of almost a quarter century's life experience, was it that really a big deal? Was it that important a match? I don't think so. There were enough lessons in that experience for me that held me in very good stead in my life much later. Looking back now, I sincerely question whether it was a loss in the first place. It didn't matter which team won - I had learnt some unbelievable lessons from that experience; it had been an excellent match! One of the most important results of that experience was that it brought me close to my God - a personal, living, walking relationship with Him. But that's also a discussion for another forum.
And then I lost another match (or I thought I did then) when I could not get the branch that I wanted, for my Engineering entrance examination. Looking back now, I don't even know if it was the branch that I wanted! It was the branch that everybody else wanted - Computer Science! Anyway, another match lost. But standing down life's road, looking back, was it a loss? No. Did it matter? Absolutely not. It did matter then, but in the long run, it definitely did not matter. I had wanted one team to win - but unfortunately that team lost - and that was the end of my world then. If only, it did not matter which team won, if only I liked both teams, how different it would have been! It would not have made much difference in the overall result, but it could have saved me a lot of unnecessary anxiety and grief then.
The key is to understanding that a match is just a match - and there is no winner and loser as long as it is a good match. Our life experiences are also similar - there is no good or bad experience - all experiences are good, since each experience teaches us something. Something valuable.
Is it really true that some events or incidents that happen in our life are good and some happenings are bad? If we think about it, I dare say no. After all, what is a good event? In most cases, it is an event, after which we feel happy, we feel content, we feel satisfied. And what is a bad event? Again in most cases, it is something that leaves you feeling sad, feeling disappointed and depressed. Now, after a supposedly bad event occurred to us, if we could somehow learn to feel satisfied, then take it to the next level and maybe even feel happy about it, would it really be a bad event? I would like to think, maybe not. An event is just an event. Nothing good or bad about it. It becomes good or bad based, solely based on how we respond to that event.
So what is the lesson here? It may be a trifle late for many of us to begin learning lessons in life - but I think we owe it to our little ones - to teach them to learn to support both teams in a match. More importantly, to teach them that there cannot be and there should not be any experience in life, from which they cannot learn great lessons. It is not easy - but if we teach them to look out for the lessons to be learnt from each experience, rather than to be overcome by the experience itself, I am confident that they will be able do so.
And just in case I was not clear enough, it is not only the negative experiences that we need to learn from - it is not only the lost matches. We have equally important lessons to learn from all those victories - lessons of keeping our feet firmly on the ground, lessons in humility and lessons in acknowledging one another, lessons in not beating down the loser - all important lessons, maybe even more important than the lessons from the losses.
So, is it too hard to sit down during this world cup and watch the matches liking both the teams? It will not be too difficult for many of us, since our country is not playing in the world cup - so we can be detached about it (or can we?). But even if your country is playing, or even if you happen to be passionately attached to a team, can we watch a match for what it is, liking both the teams?
And similarly, is it too hard, to play our matches in life, again liking both teams? Not being overly upset when our team loses and not being overly excited when our team wins; just enjoying the match and ready to take in the lessons both from the wins and the losses.
Let us try to watch the matches then, liking both teams...