Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kobayahsi Maru

It was 1979 and I was in 7th grade. It was after dinner and I was alone in my room going through that night's homework. I had been given an extra assignment that evening, one that was very new to me based on the current curriculum. At first, I thought nothing of it. It usually didn't take me too long to do homework and I'm sure I was eager to get to something else, most likely my Atari 5200 console. I ruled at the baseball sim.

At first, I was confused - the assignment didn't make sense to me. Undaunted, I re-read it several times; but something was drastically wrong. I had no idea how to complete the assignment. None whatsoever. For the first time in my young scholastic career, I asked my mother for help. She wouldn't give it to me, "You have to do this on your own," she said.

I became infuriated. I'm not sure I'd ever been that mad in my life. My adolescent 13-year old mind could not fathom not only why I couldn't complete the assignment on my own but also why my mother refused to help.

I actually stormed out of the house, slamming doors behind me in a more-than-futile attempt to escape the situation. I didn't know it at the time, but the situation was a no-win one.


You see, up until that point in time, school had been trivially easy for me. For some odd reason, my teacher and my mother figured it would be a good idea to "test the cadet's behavior and thought processes in the face of shame and defeat"

And fail I did. Not only was I unable to complete the assignment, my reaction towards this shortcoming was a failure in and of itself. It was irrational and certainly not conducive to learning any life lessons.

I'm pretty sure I resented the notion that anyone needed to "teach me how to fail."


There have been a handful of times in the past couple of years where I've gone overboard in my reaction to losing at poker. Tuesday night and Wednesday's subsequent blog post was the latest of those episodes. I debated about posting what I did, but I had to follow my personal philosophy of posting my honest thoughts here - even if it means being read by many G-Vegas players, friends, and family.

It got me to thinking though that dealing with these intermittent poker-based failures is just not something I do very well. I think it's indicative of a pattern in my life wherein I just am not comfortable enough with myself to endure any significant failures.

It's perhaps why I'm so conservative in many things. Less risk, less chance of failing.

Failing is inevitable. Fear of it, however, is crippling.

I think I took a chance, albeit small, yesterday by describing my warped thought patterns. But in doing so, I reaped a small reward in learning more about myself than I thought I knew. It's a small step, but I'll take it.

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