Winning: Five Observations Regarding the Daily Game

by Bernie DeKoven on June 12, 2010

1. Me, More and Less

Sometimes, I am bigger than myself. When I’m playing. Music, for example. Or walking along the bay. Or sometimes just because you say Hello to me. My very ego, my sense of self, my very ME grows beyond me.

Sometimes I am remarkably condensed, and can be found entirely defined by a single stubbed toe.

Sometimes I am so small in the world that I become only this body or mind or this infinitesimal thought. Me the self-image. Me the imagined.

Sometimes, I am very big. Sometimes, I am so big that I am virtually indistinguishable from the big WE. WE the lovers, WE the family, the team, the neighborhood, nationality, faith, the humanity.

Most of the time, though, I am a little too little to recognize the big, binding WE. I can almost always touch the WE that ties me to you. Less frequent feel the fleeting WE that unites me with family. And perhaps once in a great while, the WE Californians, WE English-speaking, WE Americans.

But it’s only when I am my biggest ME that I get to understand myself in the light of bigger WEs: WE human beings, WE the living, WE the World.

And then I explode into being. I get to be body and mind and spirit, idea and action, archetype and prototype, all at once. Then I get to be beyond belief.

2. The Big Deal

The fun of games is that they let you experience that bigger ME.

That’s what winning is about. That’s why they invented it.

When you win, you get to be larger. Larger than the game. Larger than the day. Large enough, sometimes, to reach historic proportions.

Some games, you get to experience your very big self as part of a winning team. And when your team wins, the WE of which you are a very big part suddenly gets so very much bigger, so very much more fun to be part of that you yourself become a bigger ME.

Some games you really don’t have to win, and you still get to be a definitely bigger ME, part of a convincingly bigger WE. Some games, all you have to do is play.

ANY game that you play well, with people who are playing well, is a ME\WE: an undeniable and self-evidential manifestation of the bigger MEness, participant in and progenitor of the greater WEness.

3. Losing

Apparently, for the vast majority of us, most of life and just about all games, provide us with only more opportunities to lose.

There is just so much to lose! You can lose a turn. You can lose a point. You can lose a whole game. And that’s the least of it!

And despite your attempts to proliferate your days with opportunities to win, as your days accumulate, you keep on discovering more and more opportunities to lose.

And some losing is even worse than others. Like the losing you do when you’re on a losing team. Where you stop working together. And you become as if broken. Fragmented. Where you lose trust. Lose confidence. Lose face.

This is what we might as well call the experience of “me\weness” as opposed to what we might call “ME\WEness.” The meanest “me.” The demeaning “we.” Where anything, even love, becomes an object of fear and pain.

And even here, actually, there is a connection, a reinforcement, a kind of satisfaction that is not exactly fun, but certainly much more fun when you’re not the reason the game was lost.

4. World of the Lost

Most organizations, businesses, governments, if not reinvented every now and then, encapsulate and perpetuate relationships based on loss.

These loss-focused relationships become cancerous, characterizing and consuming every conversation, between: employees, management, production, stakeholders, suppliers, customers; until there is no possibility of winning together anything at all.

Back and forth between ME\we and me\WE, between loss of community and loss of self, in a cycle of perpetual disempowerment, spanning a chasm of infinite regress and regret.

And it is everywhere endemic, in meetings and parties, sports and dances, ceremonies, festivals, where the only relationship we can sustain is based on our failure and belittlement, defeat and deficiency.

And it truly doth pith one off.

Forgive me if I dwell. This competition thing is bad enough. But this losing thing is really insidious, and it really takes our collective attention to some truly terrible places.

It is my re-considered opinion that I have no interest in losing, or in being part of a losing team, or in making anyone else lose, least of all you. I continually return to the conclusion that losing is not necessary or personally advantageous, no matter who does it. I really don’t have to create a world where I lose or even worry about losing. And you don’t have to, either.

We are actually allowed to have more fun than we can possibly imagine. Without anyone losing anything. Even at this very moment.

5. World of the Found

Because in the World of the Found (i.e., not the world in which you have already lost yourself, but in the very world in which you currently find yourself) there are actually three ways to win, and only one way to lose.

Yes, there’s the “me\we” (little “me,” belittle “we”) of mutual disempowerment. But then there’s the “ME\we” of competition where, ultimately, only winners are supposed to have fun. And then there’s the “me\WE” relationship, where everybody is so together that you re-define yourself.

In the World of the Found you find yourself embracing the ME\we and me\WE, experiencing with the gain of community the gain of self, in a cycle of increasingly mutual empowerment, swinging you ever higher through worlds of infinite depth and capacities for delight.

I call this ME\WE. Some people call this “CoLiberation.” Or the well-played game. Or, in the World of the Found, the right boss, the good job, the long marriage.


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