Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Now the Hard Part Begins....

I made to the finals in Project Verse!

From the time I was kid, I've always been one of those people who have shied away from competition. I was terrible at games, either sporty or board-y, and on the odd occasion that it looked like I was going to come out ahead, I'd throw the game because I couldn't bear to see my competitor feel bad. I always just shrugged it off and told myself that winning didn't matter to me. Consequently, I never learned the proper lessons that healthy competition is supposed to teach you: how a good competitor makes you better, how to win graciously, how to lose graciously, how to keep games from becoming personal, how to deal with disappointment. (Oddly, I have also never won an Olympic gold medal or gotten picked for a champion sports team).

But I think all of those years of shunning competition and actively avoiding any possible win has created some sort of latent, unused competitive gene to occasionally roar to the surface and turn me, suddenly, Hulk-like, into an aggressive machine, mindlessly programmed to win some completely vague and useless contest at all costs. Most of the time these are contests that no one else even knows they're in with me. But no matter. That's not the point. The point is to win. Even if I have to make up the game, the victory, and the prize, all in my own head. It could be something as simple as being the first one to hit the Walk button at the crosswalk. (Ha! That shows them. Whose got the fastest reflexes here, huh? That's right. Who's yer Daddy, bitch?) Then I feel better. Then I feel like I won; like I beat someone at something. It seems to be some ingrained biological function, that the more I ignore or try to tamp down with my "winning doesn't matter" mantra, the more it scrabbles to assert itself.

So now I am in this contest, with nine awesome, scarily good poets, and in order to win, I have to hold on for ten whole weeks! I have to write really damn good stuff on very short notice. I have to be consistent, I have to be fearless and strong of heart, I have to, god forbid, "deliver". And there will be winners and losers, a dynamic that terrifies me. It's so black and white. So final.

But I'm really, really excited about it! I already feel that reptilian, competitive thing, crawling it's beady-eyed path to the surface of my frontal cortex and whispering to me...winning is all that counts...winning is all that counts...and I'm like a mixed martial-arts cage fighter with his coach before the big match, jumping around, all hopped on adrenaline and ready to crush my competitor's windpipe.

But, like I said, winning is not really that important to me.

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