It is good for the world to do crazy things

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 23, 2013 – 12:00am

The afterglow still lingers.

I just came home from an overnight stay at Puerto Princesa to have dinner with 10 people I did not know.

I’ve been doing this crazy thing for sometime now: Spending time with people I have never met. I posted an announcement on Twitter about three weeks ago inviting complete strangers to dinner. I asked all those interested to write me an e-mail and that I would randomly choose among those who would respond. I stated two conditions: one was that they were strangers to me. In other words, to qualify, a participant had to be a person whom I had never met. The other was, he/she should not be a stalker. Admittedly, the second is a pretty useless rule since there is no way I would know if a person was a dangerous stalker or not. I just thought I would mention it to dissuade certain kinds of people from spoiling good dinner and conversation over wine.

I received more than 220 letters in four days. I scanned each one quickly and immediately excluded some who either came across as too depressing and needy, based on how they presented themselves, or had some agenda that seemed to suggest to me that their conversation might not sit well with others.

There were more women who responded as was the case in the other Passion Night dinners I had done. I chose 10 people randomly and posted their names on my Tumblr blog and gave them four days to confirm. To my surprise, not all responded considering each one went out of his/her way to write a letter to join. I had to randomly choose again about two more times because some could not make it. Finally, I felt I had completed my list at eight participants. I bent the rules with the last two slots and gave them to my nephew Sandro and his wife Sheng who was celebrating her birthday.

Last Saturday, June 15, with 10 guests from Manila in tow, I flew them to Puero Princesa via Zest Air. It was quite a sight to meet each stranger with a big smile on his/her face as they approached me by the departure entrance at the domestic airport. I could sense clearly both an anticipation and thrill at being part of this wild adventure of flying somewhere with strangers for a dinner in a Palawan restaurant, not to mention sharing rooms afterward.

When we got to Puerto Princesa, we checked in at the Aquari Suites. And since we still had about two hours before the 6:30 dinner, we went to Baker’s Hill, a cute little park 15 minutes out of the city where we took some pictures. We also passed by Mitra’s Ranch which is just a minute away to relish the panoramic view of Honda Bay.

After a while, we left for La Terrasse restaurant where we were warmly greeted by owner Ditchay Roxas, whom I had met for the first time but had been corresponding with. Maan Hontiveros, CEO of Air Asia who was so enthusiastic about the idea of Passion Night when I presented it to her, connected the two of us to get the project going. Two more people from Puerto Princesa joined us. One was Matt Mendoza, an actor whom I had not seen in some 14 years. In the last election, he was the councilor of Palawan who got the most votes. The other was Lui Oliva, a longtime resident of Puerto Princesa who runs his own seafood restaurant called Ka Lui.

We started with hors d‘oeuvres — smoked fish pâté on mini Russian pancakes (mini blinis), crispy duck rolled in Mandarine crepe, La Terrasse seafood ceviche. These broke the ice in a big way. The food immediately elicited glowing comments from everyone. The crispy duck was a runaway favorite. Soon dinner was served. The bouillabaisse soup, the salad composed of mixed mesclun greens with smoked bacon and alfalfa sprouts, followed by the main course which was a choice of crispy rolled pork belly served with pumpkin puree and sautéed greens and poached fish fillet à la Niçoise were just scrumptiously fantastic. Ditchay proudly explained to us that the salads were homegrown, and the ducks and chicken she served were native and free ranged. The fish was legally caught. The whole approach of her resto was to serve, as best as she can, food that’s organically grown and tastefully presented and served.

As much as the dinner was delicious, what engaged us most was the conversation. In a situation where mostly no one really knew anyone else, I was quite surprised that people were candid, open and willing to share their hopes, fears, their thoughts on politics, religion, and most interesting of all, their personal histories including life highlights and personal pains and whatever else was important to them.

A fun-loving young man shared his ongoing battle with colorectal cancer. A 41-year-old woman talked about having lived a life of abject poverty and abuse in her early childhood and overcoming it without bitterness. Two young mothers shared their wishes for their children and families. One young writer wished for a singing career. Another writer wanted to write about her grandparents’ lives as farmers, which she felt should not be forgotten in this modern age. Another young lady shared her passion about helping young children. A young man wanted to see more of the world and experience it.

A young lady from out of town talked about her passion for nursing. A married young man talked about achieving financial independence that would free his time to be with his family more. Matt Mendoza talked about making sure he would be very present as a father raising his young kids. Lui talked about his life as a UN peacekeeper serving at one time in Bosnia, Ethiopia, East Timor and other war-torn places. Ditchay shared with us her views on many things — food, living together with her partner of 30 years, loving oneself, tourism in Palawan, the state of the environment. I talked about zen, authors I liked, my dreams for the future, my family and my own life as a creative.

Everyone was very attentive to each other’s stories. I noticed everyone opening up and baring personal issues, and feeling affirmed even if they were in the company of loving strangers. As bold as this may seem, I noticed there is some comfort in being open to people you don’t really know. No wonder people open up to bartenders, and some taxi drivers tell their life stories to their transient passengers.

That night, there were no emotional ties that ran deep to make people wary of being judged. In fact, there were no previous histories shared at all. There was only the present moment where we all found ourselves thrown in some strange circumstance that not just allowed but encouraged people to drop their guard and allow medium to large amounts of personal vulnerability to be exposed.

This is the fourth time I have done Passion Night. The first three times were in Manila. Two of them were dinners in my house and one of them was held at Lanelle Abueva’s Crescent Moon restaurant in Antipolo. Each time felt unique, exciting in that out-and-out crazy kind of way. This fourth experience was still as amazing as the rest with the added element of being out of town and therefore making everyone a bit braver and more open to sharing. We had gone this far and had set aside time and effort at being here. What a waste it would have been if we had simply surrendered to shyness.

As in every batch, new friendships were immediately formed. There is already talk of getting together soon among them. That is simply great.

To Sandro, Sheng, Geraldine, Mariel, JC, Zion, Cate, Kat, Aileen, BVRose, Ditchay, Lui, and Matt: thank you for being there. To Zest Air, La Terrasse and Aquari Travelers Suites, thank you for being open and game enough to sponsor this crazy idea.

It can only do the world good if more people did crazy, fun things like this. It is mindboggling to realize that indeed everyone has a great story to share if people would really just make time to listen.

The making of heroes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 16, 2013 – 12:00am

Illustration by REY RIVERA

The first time I came across the book A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin some 30 years ago, I was surprised to learn that many among our national heroes were men who, despite their achievements and great deeds, had feet of clay. They had flaws, some of which were serious; they had their failings and imperfections. Some of them were drunks, opportunists and slackers, but they somehow rose to the occasion and were great when they had to be.

It was fascinating and somewhat liberating to know that these people who were stellar figures in our history were not perfect, ideal characters who had nothing but love for and devotion to the country. They were also driven by self-interest, which sometimes served them, but also hounded them. But even as I read about their shenanigans, I could empathize with these heroes. I liked them precisely because they were human, just like the rest of us.

This reminded me that everyone is given the chance to be a hero.

One of my heroes is Nelson Mandela. He was born in a society that despised the race he was born into. As a young man, he raged against apartheid and was put behind bars where he stayed for 27 years, the longest-held political detainee in human history. When he has finally released in 1990, he negotiated peace and reconciliation with the white South African government. He was elected president in 1994, the first black president of South Africa. A lesser man would have gotten back at the white supremacists of South Africa who made his life and that of the black majority a living hell, but he did not surrender to the basic instincts of hate and revenge. Instead, he showed forgiveness, patience, compassion as he unwaveringly pursued his vision of a multi-racial South African society living in peace and harmony. Mandela was an exceptional human being and his journey was most extraordinary.

Did he have failings and weaknesses? Yes. He was at times arrogant and even quite vain. He liked wearing expensive clothes. Surely, he had other faults. Earlier in his life he believed in armed struggle. I don’t know if that is a fault given his situation then, but fortunately, time and circumstance made him see the wisdom of the peaceful and compassionate path.

Joseph Campbell writes that everyone goes through what he calls a “hero’s journey.” I am amazed at how true this is. He says that every person starts out in some sort of Paradise, and then is thrown out of it. He then goes through the jungle, meeting teachers and mentors along the way, learning things and returning to his origins to teach what he has learned. This pretty much comprises the highlights of a hero’s journey. In essence, this is what great life stories are about. To live heroically requires some struggle.
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Think of Frodo of Lord of the Rings, and Luke Skywalker of Star Wars. Both were living in some sort of Eden, Frodo in the Shire and Luke in a distant, quiet planet far, far away. Both heard the call to adventure, and responded to it hesitantly. But in no time, they were on their way to a “quest,” as if they were being pulled by it. They went through dark, dangerous forests, and suffered through hardships. Along the way, they met mentors and allies who shared with them the ways of the wise. They went through training, acquired new skills, and eventually transformed into better, more adept persons than they originally were. In the process, they faced their demons and enemies and triumphed over them, to return to their societies with wisdom and stature.

Think of your own life and I’m sure you will be able to pinpoint that moment when you felt your great disappointment or fear. It was the time when you were thrown out of Eden. It was your loss of innocence and your introduction to life outside your comfort zone. Welcome to reality.

I felt I was kicked out of Paradise when my dad died. I was in grade school. Things changed suddenly. We had to move from our nice, big house with a swimming pool, into a small, cramped apartment. It was definitely a step down.

But it was also an adventure, like entering into a dark forest not unlike the quest of finding oneself and discovering one’s own talents and strengths in a new situation. The journey from being a kid to a young man is always a special learning of sorts. I learned a lot from great teachers, books, my mom, conversations with uncles and aunts, kuyas and ates, and from life itself. I had to deal with my fears and disappointments, mustering love and courage, and imbibe everything I had to learn to become a man. All this on top of the basic knowledge that I had to master in school.

Rizal also had his own experience of being thrown out of Eden as he felt the shame his family went through when they had a tussle with church authorities. He went on a literal journey to Europe where he learned about reforms, freedom, art, history, medicine, and developed his personal truths. When he returned to the homeland, he planted his seeds of knowledge, his aspirations and his vision for the country. Although he was executed for his beliefs, he went through his journey and succeeded.

If you analyze their lives, Jesus and the Buddha went through the same stages: the call, the journey, the testing, the discovery of their own strengths (overcoming temptations), the enlightenment or clarity they experienced (Buddha under the Bodhi tree, Jesus in the desert), and their decision to “pay it forward.”

Everyone is called to take the hero’s journey as Campbell suggests, but not everyone automatically succeeds at it. Surely, everyone is called to life. It goes with being born. What we do with that life makes all the difference. There are many callings that we will hear. One will be the calling to walk the same path and follow the map that our parents used when they took their journey. Some will only hear society’s call to conform. Some will hear a call so new and scary that they may flinch when they look down its path.

So how do you know which call to heed in your own hero’s journey? Campbell suggests that we follow the one that leads us to our own bliss.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us,” Campbell says. “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”

This is something I have experienced to be true many times in my life.

To me, being a hero is not just about listening to one’s higher sense of purpose, adventure and meaning but to have the audacity to actually plunge into the unknown dark path in pursuit of it. Many may hear the call but opt for a safer, tried and tested path. Or there may be no path to see, or a template to follow. So you must carve your own way.

The path becomes clearer at the time and pace that you are coming unto your own person. You just have to trust it.

As I write this, it is June 12 and we our celebrating our own day of independence. I look at the challenges that are staring us in the face as a nation. Challenges are callings. Which ones must we respond to?

Surely, as a nation, we were thrown out of Eden a long time ago. We have lost a big part of our innocence and wasted precious time wandering aimlessly in the forest. It is time to listen to the wise among us in order to find our way out of the maze we are in. It’s time to gain new wisdom and skills and slay the dragons that stand in our way.

Using the metaphor of the ocean, we must avoid the false allure of the mermaid’s siren song that will surely lead us astray, as has happened again and again in the past. The greater heroes among us must speak louder and set the course for the national journey with their own visions that coincide with the greater interest of everyone. And like we did in EDSA, let us all show up again, but this time, we must learn the lessons and acquire the skills and character we need to pull off more miracles.

Crazy, huh?

I’m doing a crazy thing tomorrow. I call it Passion Night and it is the 4th time I do this.

I posted an announcement on twitter about 3 weeks ago inviting strangers to dinner. I told them to write me an email and I said would randomly choose among people who sent emails. I had two conditions: 1) they were not stalkers and 2) that I had never met them.

Well, It’s pushing through this Saturday, June 15, 2013. I have 10 guests from Manila who will fly with me to Puero Princesa tomorrow via Zest Air. We will be staying at the Aquari Suites and we will be having dinner at the La Terrasse resto. Two more will be joining us from Palawan. We are staying overnight and going home on Sunday early afternoon.

Why am I doing this? Because it is fun and amazing how we can learn from people we do not know. Discovery is a wonderful thing. I also notice that great sharing can happen when people do not know each other and so have no pre-judgments. Strangers are often friends we just haven’t been introduced to.

Will write about it. Wish me luck! Crazy, huh?

The new talking points

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2013 – 12:00am

(To my Philippine Star readers, I sent the unedited version that appears on the newspaper today. This one below should have been the article you should be reading. Sorry for the mix up.)

Time was, not too long ago, when everyone knew their place in the world. A son became a lawyer because his father and grandfather were lawyers. A woman got married, had children and stayed at home. Children were seen and not heard. They went to school and stayed there till they finished their studies. Priests were seen to be all-holy, all-knowing and yes, celibate. Marriages were permanent. Men married women, and vice versa. All these seemed like the normal, natural flow of things.

Those who did not fit into this natural order were looked at somewhat strangely and considered outcasts. I remember how the few obvious gays in my school were mocked and teased. When I was young, I heard about one or the other priest leaving the order, but these were spoken of in hushed tones. And the women who were separated, especially those who left their husbands, were looked upon as having a somewhat dubious reputation. They were considered ‘bold’ and ‘wild’ to have done what they did.

The world was like a 50’s movie where stock characters were the ‘real’ characters. If you weren’t like them, you were a weirdo or an anti-establishment person. Everyone came from or strived to be of a certain acceptable template. That was just the way it was.

In the 60s, we began to see the cracks on the wall. Long-haired men, bra-less ‘liberated’ women, drug use, ‘tuning in, turning on and dropping out’ were becoming common. Musical tastes were changing quickly. Expressions of physical love were candidly expressed in songs and in public.

I remember my Mom pointing out a line from the song, ‘The First Time’ that went, ‘The first time ever I lay with you’, saying it was shocking and close to obscene. But not much later, the lyrics of ‘Father and Son’ which went, ‘..find a girl, settle down, if you want you can marry’, were playing everywhere with hardly an eyebrow raised. ‘Living in’ was already on the table of options for young couples, not just marriage. Things were transforming almost overnight. And it was just beginning.

Now, gay rights—including marriage, the legalization of marijuana, contraception, sexual content in media, new ways of raising children, women as primary breadwinners, and so many other controversial issues are gaining societal acceptance.

How did things become so different in just a few decades? I am not sure I know the answer. But more important for me is why things changed, and at the pace that it did.

If all of life and civilization are about the building of common physical, psychological and moral structures where people gather as societies and pledge a tacit allegiance to operate within them, are we moving backwards by giving up and turning our backs on what took us centuries to build? Are we being reckless? Are we simply destroying without building new structures in their place?

If we examine the underlying glue that held things together before what past generations held dear started to fall apart, the dominant world software operated on the following premises: Men were superior to women and were the breadwinners. Women followed men’s orders. Good men and women were religious. The Church was God’s institution and was always correct in all matters, especially regarding sexual behavior. God’s laws were written in black and white. Whatever the Bible said had to be followed. To have the ‘wrong’ sexual orientation was not only shameful but downright sinful. These are only some of the rules that defined the world and we simply followed accordingly.
The world—and life, as much as it could be controlled by society—seemed to unfold in linear fashion, not unlike the act of reading where the eyes go from left to right suggesting order, logic and rationality. The child was raised and entered adulthood with this set of beliefs ‘coming together’ in him.

Enter the digital world where the acquisition of knowledge and the way we perceive the world suddenly stopped being just linear and became intuitive. Where there used to be the numerical measure of IQ, there are now at least seven intelligences that are recognized. The modes of perception have changed.

The aggressive, exponential growth of knowledge, and the challenge that new data has had on fixed beliefs, especially on the static stance of religion and society’s myths have been unsettling. Science especially has trampled on the ways we have always looked at everything. The myths and beliefs could not withstand the onslaught of so much questioning. Sooner than later, what we have always held to be sacred and true began to slip away.

A study of animals tells us that every specie has fixed ways of doing things. One can tell the type of bird by the way it builds a nest. Bees will always form beehives. Among living beings, man is the only specie that is not as predictable. Human societies are hardly static. The strong ones can become weak, and the backward and weak can be dominant at another time. And the equilibrium changes when society’s underlying beliefs lose their relevance and reach their expiry dates.

More than ever, dogmas in every field are being challenged by science and yes, physical mobility. Ethnic purity is no more, diluted by travel and mass migration. The beliefs about sexual and racial superiority are fading fast. In a world that has lost most of its boundaries, new myths and values are fast emerging.

So what is now holding human societies together? What sets of values are replacing what we are quickly abandoning?
From the looks of it, here are some of society’s new ideals.

-People, regardless of race, sexual orientation, age, religion, economic status or any other category they may fall into, are inherently equal and must be accorded the same rights.

– We live in one world. If there is to be peace, it must be present everywhere. If we destroy the world, all of us will suffer. As a clear example, for the first time in mankind’s history, we are being called as one human race to address Climate Change, or suffer its consequences.

-The economic inequality in the world today is unconscionable and must be addressed so that more people share in the prosperity.

-Education is a human right.

-Religions must, at the very least, be tolerant of each other and work out and embrace their commonalities more than their differences.

-Science and Spirituality must come to an understanding of and respect for each others’ domain.

– Solutions to problems big and small can come from anywhere, or anyone in the world.

-Everything is way too interconnected now than at any given time in history. This fact alone opens us to greater cooperation, tolerance, maturity and understanding among all peoples.

-The sum total of all political and social movements is about ever greater involvement and freedom for everyone.
Life was not made to be static, forever playing out the game plan made by one’s ancestors. And the world is a dynamic place that is constantly being remade in the image and likeness of its current inhabitants.

Conservatism for its own sake is fear playing out, afraid of what the new may bring. Modernity can become dangerously like aimless rebellion, devoid of real creation, or a spiral step up the evolutionary ladder seeking only to destroy the old order.

The balance can be achieved by encouraging an ever increasing world consciousness. We need more world-centric people who think of themselves as human beings first, than those who still think in tribal terms.

If these talking points are truly as commonly shared as many of us would like to believe, I am optimistic of the future of humanity and the world. ###

Winners and losers

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 2, 2013 – 12:00am

Illustration by REY RIVERA

It’s a good time to ponder this topic since we just had an election.

It’s great to be a winner. You feel like you are on top of the world. You are, to put it simply, the best there is. In your mind at least, that’s the reason why you won. Everyone loves you. Everyone idolizes you. You have been put on a special pedestal in the world you inhabit.

If you are a big-time winner, it must feel like you are the center of the universe. I think of people like Obama, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan or David Beckham who at one time in their lives are/were the center of the universe, and even when they are not always in the headlines, they are/were easily within striking distance of it. Everything they were involved in was looked at approvingly by a great number of people who adored every little thing they did.

I think it is safe to say that most of us have felt like winners once or even a few times in their lives even in the much smaller universe we inhabit. We could be the golden child in the family, the best in school, popular in our barkada, or maybe as some sort of local hero or champion in our community or church. Or perhaps we are celebrities in the political or social firmament, or in entertainment. Or maybe we are famous because we had done something that caught the attention or admiration of some people, however few they were. It is intoxicating to feel like a champion or a winner.

Remember Mohammad Ali shouting “I am the greatest” after one of his momentous fights? That’s the feeling of a winner. I can remember Manny Pacquiao’s face beaming every time he won a fight as he took part in the motorcades that welcomed him home. Notice how winners in the Oscars, especially for Best Actor and Actress, always prepare memorable lines full of wisdom and wit that aim to make them more endearing to their audience and perhaps more immortally remembered? Winners like to bask in their success.

Once you taste it, you will definitely want more of it. One does not need great observation skills to notice how extremely rare it is for politicians to run for only one term. (Boy, don’t we know it!) An athlete will also always try to maintain his ranking, or if he is really aggressive, will outdo his winning performances every chance he has, wanting to break his own records. Look at Tiger Woods and Serena Williams. They will mostly keep at it until they begin to falter and stumble and notice they can’t perform like they used to. That’s the time to stop. But even when athletes do realize it, not all will accept it and will still continue to keep on believing that the Gods are still smiling down on them.

Where there are winners, there are losers. It’s a status nobody wants to have. It is painful, humiliating and depressing to lose. It is a humbling experience to have your bubble of expectations burst, and realize that you actually did not have the highly vaunted powers and capabilities you had fancied yourself to possess in the first place.

We have all experienced losing. I know I have. It hurts to feel rejection, or to lose to someone especially if you feel your opponent was lesser or lower than you. I have experienced losing in love, arguments and debates, a barangay election, a songwriting contest, a singing contest, a few advertising bids when I was still working in an agency. As a competitive person by nature, it was hard for me to accept losing each time.

But strangely enough, for the same reason I quickly understood that to wallow in self-pity and victimhood (whether real or imagined) made me an even bigger loser. If I remained in that state, or worse if I cultivated a lot of negativity aimed towards myself, or my perceived enemies, or at life in general, I would be a hopeless, incorrigible loser.

I immediately picked up the lesson that I had to accept whatever was thrown at me, and vow to meet it with grace, dignity and unflappable aplomb. If I did that, I knew that nothing was actually lost, or taken from me. I still had my equanimity, my dignity and, who knows, I perhaps may even earn the respect of my competitors.

A healthy dose of sense of humor is really important to have when you lose. If you can laugh and shrug your shoulders and say, “That’s life,” in the middle of the wreckage you are in, you are a step closer to winning an even bigger battle. And that’s the battle against your ego.

One thing I know for sure is that no one remains a winner forever. And so it goes with losing. These states of gain and loss are merely shifting fortunes of men and women in life.

Winners will eventually lose their magic touch, sometimes slowly, or it may be all too quickly. In a snap, some can lose or forget the formula of success they once felt belonged to them as their birthright. There have been individuals, groups, even entire empires that quickly lost their stature and status as they faded into historical oblivion.

Losers also do not have to remain losers. The wheel of life is constantly turning. Sometimes it is very slow but it can be rapid, too. I have always liked the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changing. Here’s part of it.

The line it is drawn

The curse it is cast

The slow one now will later be fast

As the present now will later be past

The order is rapidly fadin’

And the first one now will later be last

For the times they are a-changing.

Heroes and villains will come and go. And sometimes, history plays its own games and switches their roles or gives them makeovers. President Marcos, the brilliant leader and war hero, fell from his pedestal and was disgraced and condemned as a thief and dictator, perhaps irrevocably. And then there was Ninoy who appeared as a loser to his archenemy Marcos while he was alive, but won big in death.

The contrasts between the lives of Nelson Mandela and his fellow South Afrikaaner, the athlete Oscar Pastorius is astounding. Mandela took almost three decades before he won his dream. But even while he appeared to be a loser serving his time in hard labor, he was in fact a winner in training. During his incarceration, he learned the art of compromise, forgiveness, and how to steel himself to meet the important challenges that would face him someday. Meanwhile, Pastorius, who enjoyed superstar status in the world of sports, lost it in a second when the murder of his girlfriend was pinned on him.

A winner must be humble enough to see his own faults. He must know his limitations and not fall into a sense of infallibility, or a can-do-nothing-wrong attitude. While it is hard to be grounded when you breathe rarified air while sitting on top of the world, you must be tethered to reality even while flying the stratosphere of success.

On the other hand, a loser who has been forced to humility must have enough pride or a sense of self to stay afloat and not be broken in spirit. He must learn the capacity to pull out inner powers within himself that he may never have known he had. And these powers usually make themselves known to you only at the point when you think you have nothing left to cope with the situation.

I have known people who had lost everything only to awaken and realize a sense of complete wholeness even when all they had was a profound sense of their own humanity. And when you ask them to tell their story to you, they always acknowledge losing as a moment of great awakening, as some sort of turning point before they completely bounced back.

My take on all this is that we should never write off losers and we must ever underestimate the power of the comeback. Nor should we ever think that winning is everything and that winners will always be on top in the game of life.

You just have to do your best and play your part with dignity while the wheel is spinning.