The following is an excerpt from the book, The Perfect Loss: A Different Kind of Happiness. It is a book about returning to hope, and rediscovering that the Beatitudes of Jesus are a call to life, a full life. But the price we pay to have the life we seek usually comes through loss, a perfect loss that can return us to the lives we are created to have.
The price we pay to have the life we seek usually comes through loss.
It’s weird how a kid can hang a life on something that doesn’t seem to really matter to others, like symbols of some kind—a loss, a heartbreak, a move, a parent’s reaction, a deep defeat of heart. To my teammates, it was the end of a season and high school, a very real transition. To me, it was the end of desire.
When the buzzer sounded to end the game, we left the floor of the coliseum down a long ramp into the bowels of the building to the locker room. We lost. Three years in a row we lost the first game in the district.
All that running, shooting alone, practice after practice when everyone had left, pickup games at the college with older guys, Christmas Eve practice when I would get the key from the coach, all the prayers, the dedication, the trying hard, the discipline, no carbonated beverages because they supposedly decrease breathing capacity—did nothing. I gave everything. I was fated to fail after all; just like I was told.
I leaned into my locker to get my towel, left my head partially inside it against the open door and broke down. I never cried much since I was little. I tried not to, but I did not care anymore. The pain of loss and anger rolled up over me. Pain that would become confirmation of my inadequacy and secret self-hatred later on as I shoved my heart away.
I did everything right and everything wrong because I left my heart out of everything I did.
I could not stop crying. Tears came like vomit. My ribs rocked with them. I sat, put a towel over my head, and face toward the floor, crying. I went to the shower and kept crying with water running over my head and face.
Everyone had left. Finally the tears stopped. I dressed. I walked up the long ramp from underneath the gym floor. All the sounds of the next game were in full throw. I came up to look at the game, not knowing what else to do. I leaned against the wall and happened to glance up. My eyes caught the attention of a couple of girls in the stands within earshot. “Look at him; he’s been crying,” one of them said mockingly. I looked at them hard for a second, had nothing in it but resignation, though. Too ashamed, too tired inside, too heavy with something I didn’t understand.
I turned, went down the ramp, pushed through the shadowy concrete halls to an exit out into the dark, not to return to myself for the next fourteen years. I vacated the last room of my heart that I still lived in, the room with hope in it, turned out the light, locked the door quietly, and stamped “stupid” on the outside.
I left behind dreams, believing, needing, purity, dependence, longings, desire from way inside my heart, feelings, and the God I once knew so well that I could almost hear him breathing everywhere. I left behind our greatest gift, the heart’s ability to cry out and be in the Presence of God. I forgot.
I had no idea that resignation in life and acceptance of life are as different as asphalt and birds’ wings.
I took the first steps of miles and miles away from a boy whose heart I used to know, thinking that there was someplace I could go to get away from him. I walked away from me and, therefore, from other relationships and God. The only thing I could not get rid of was the wishing, wishing that life were different. I also couldn’t stop remembering that I used to know something that I believed.
I “got it.” I faced facts, became an adult, and resigned myself to living life on life’s terms. I had no idea that resignation in life and acceptance of life are as different as asphalt and birds’ wings.