Sunday, June 10, 2007

Winners And Losers

I just finished watching this year's Tony Awards. I must say that having just returned from a week on Broadway, I was more engaged this year than I have ever been before. Spring Awakening, a show that I did not see, was clearly the winner tonight. There were several nominations from shows that we saw, but if I remember correctly, none came out on top. As I considered what we had seen and what won, I began to think about the process of determining "the best", not just the best in theater, but the best in anything.

The message that prevails in this world is that if you are not the best at whatever it is you choose to do, then you are not "good enough"- whatever that means The reality is that only one (or possibly a small few) can be at the top of any venture. Does that render the rest of us meaningless? If so, we have a whole world of pointless people. How absurd is this?

We watch championship ball games and talk about winners and losers. My family watched as the Dallas Mavericks experienced a terrible upset in the first round of the NBA play-offs. I can say that we were disappointed as I am sure the Mavericks players were. And yes, they did lose the series. But should we really call them losers? What did it take to even get to the play-offs? A great number of successes. Each of these players along with thousands of other young boys dreamed of being a professional basketball player. A handful of them realized this dream. The fact that these players were even in a position to "lose" makes them winners.

We see the same type of quantification as we watch Olympic events. "So and so had to settle for a silver medal." Settle? Why not be proud of that accomplishment? Second in the world; what a failure! What message are we sending to our children here?

No one can always be "the best". But, we can all strive for and be "our best". If we live to be the best we can be at whatever our gift is in life, the world will be a much happier place because we will be free of the anxiety that comes with discontent. Living up to our individual potential is the greatest accomplishment for any of us. Always needing to be the best, the expert, the all-powerful, is the quickest way to unhappiness, not to mention madness. In a nutshell, we need to learn to be happy with who we are and what we are. If we are truly happy in our own skin, we are our best. We can attain nothing greater than unqualified contentment in life. When we are happy, we have the capacity to set higher goals for ourselves and have a real chance of achieving them.

To those who received awards tonight, Congratulation. To those who received nominations, Congratulations. To those who dream of one day singing on Broadway, Congratulations. To those who are happy singing in the shower, Congratulations. And to those who are happy just listening, Congratulations.

To steal a phrase, be all that you can be . . .and you too will be a winner.