Wednesday, January 07, 2009


It doesn't matter if you're talking about a major sports event, or a precious item, or a loved one: losing is terrorizing.

My most vivid experience with losing from my adolescence happened in the spring of 1996. I was a big fan of "The Shark," Greg Norman. This was just before the emergence of Tiger Woods, and Norman was the best golfer in the world. I still have a black straw Shark hat that I got back then, and I would wear it just like he did out on the golf course.

If there was a tournament that was ever tailormade for Greg Norman's game, it was "The Masters." And it had alluded him for years. But 1996 appeared to be his year. And he did not disappoint for the first 54 holes, taking a 6 stroke lead into the final 18 holes. And then he collapsed. Greg's 6-shot lead evaporated after 9 holes, and he ended up losing to Nick Faldo by 5 shots by coming in with a 78. If he had just shot PAR golf, he would have still won! Many sports writers still consider it the biggest choke job of all time.

Shell-shocked, I dutifully tagged along with Dad to church. We sat in the back row that night -- sitting alone together -- just silently waiting for worship to begin. I turned to Dad and said, "It still bothers me. It doesn't seem real." In an instructive tone, Dad told me, "It's just like losing your wallet. The feeling just doesn't go away."

It can ruin the most well-laid plans. I have a friend, Shon, whose wife took the kids & was going to be gone for the night. Shon decided to have a movie night: he was going to watch the loudest, bloodiest guy flicks he could find. And he was going to eat pizza with olives: his family hated olives. So he ordered the pizza, stopped by Blockbuster to get the movies, and got home just before the delivery guy showed up. When he came to the door, Shon reached for his check book & realized it wasn't there. Luckily he scrounged up enough cash to pay for the pizza, and he paid the pizza guy. But it mattered little now: he was gripped with fear over his lost checkbook. Shon took his house & car apart searching for that checkbook. Finally, he began to retrace his steps and headed back to his office. He took his office apart. Feeling a deep sense of failure, he trudged back out to his car when he spotted the checkbook laying in the parking lot next to where he had parked that afternoon.

The evening was shot. The pizza was cold. There was no time to watch movies. But at least he had that checkbook back.

A host of emotions & thoughts have charged through me since I started looking for my pet wolf yesterday. I feel guilt: did I neglect her? Was it me who put the chain on wrong Monday night? I feel concern: is she okay? Is she hungry/thirsty? Is she lonely? Is she scared? Is she hurt? I feel responsibility. Scenario's play in my head anywhere from someone shooting my wolf out of fear to someone adopting her for themselves.

It is a terrorizing, restless state to be in. There is no peace. There is some comfort, but it's not easy to find. I just try to hold out hope that we're gonna find her any moment now.

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