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Gettin’ my butt whupped .... or maybe not!”

by Rebekah_Miles
April 28, 2012

“Gettin’ my butt whupped …. or maybe not!”

“There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose.” John Kenneth Galbraith

My brother and I are rooming together. We text back and forth during the day with pitiful reports from our respective committees. As far apart as we are on many issues, we share a common experience on our respective General Conference committees. This commonality is represented in a frequent text message expressed in our native Arkansas vernacular– “I’m gettin my butt whupped.”

It just means we are losing big; no actual violence is implied in this idiomatic expression. Most everybody is being pleasant enough to us; we do our best to reciprocate. (Honestly, we’ve also had today a lot of surprising wins. That’s for a later post.)

In 1968, the economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, “There are times in politics, when you must be on the right side and lose.”

I guess that’s better than being on thewrongside and losing … and a heck of lot better than being on the wrong side andwinning. Of course, it is hard to know for sure sometimes whether you are on the right or the wrong side, or now that I think about it, even to know with certainty whether you have won or lost.

I can’t say that I’ve grown fond of losing but I have become acclimated to it. My backside has thick enough callouses to make losing only moderately painful.

I’ve been reflecting on the gifts and challenges of losing. As John noted in one text, “Keeps me humble.” What other gifts does losing bring?

It is a goad to work harder, to make better arguments, and to win next time … or maybe to lose again.

It’s a reminder that we aren’t in control. However obvious this lesson sounds, the illusion of control is as powerful and enduring as it is false.

It’s a reminder that we might be wrong. When we are on the losing side, might it be worthwhile to ponder whether the majority might be right after all . . . Neh.

It leads to success and resilience. Lots of studies indicate that it’s good for kids to lose; they learn to struggle. It helps them toward greater success later in life.. Also, in one of my favorite studies, researchers found that the most successful scientists had more mediocre work than less successful scientists. They just had a lot more stuff overall. Some of it went well. Some of it didn’t. So, when I lose, I like thinking to myself: “Hurray, I have more failures. It must be proof of success.” As I noted before happy illusions die hard.

OK, I’ll fess up. I’ve had some losses this week but also some great wins today. In fact, even though I took some hits, I’m floored that things are going as well as they are. I’ll report more later on that.

I have an inner ear disease that has been kicking my backside today. I got up before 3 and, even though I had vertigo, I wrote several emails trying to get some of my legislation and support lined up. I was back in bed around seven with terrible vertigo. For a while I couldn’t get out of bed without falling to the floor. I was sending out panicked emails and texts trying to make sure I had everything covered if my legislation came up and I wasn’t there. It was hard because I couldn’t see the computer screen well and had trouble lifting my head off the pillow. It’s pathetic that I kept going. What was I thinking? I’m insanely relentless.

Maybe part of the reason I feel like I “got my butt whupped” is that I’m walking in a vertiginous fog. (Good God, only someone in a vertiginous fog would use the phrases “got my butt whupped” and “vertiginous fog” in the same sentence … actually two sentences in a row.)

…. Well, I started this post when I was losing a lot of votes; now that things are going so well, the day has lost its Eeyore-ness. I’m going to bed before things turn again.

… Maybe this post seems rambling and broken up into pieces and disordered and contradictory and wobbly — moving from resigned failure to giddy success without much transition. If that’s how it seems, I have given you something of a feel for this last day in legislative committee.

Blessings –