Good writing sessions feel like victory. They’re uplifting, full of adrenaline, we celebrate by buying a french doughnut. The bad ones feel like defeat, sometimes slow and drawn out but other times swift and sudden; you look up at the clock and it’s 6pm and you know the day is gone. I have lost.
There’s a word for it in the card game I’ve been playing: salt. Saltiness. You see salt in your opponents after a tough beat: they have to get up and walk around; they lose the ability to talk; they talk too much, blame their luck or yours. Consolatory words will not suffice. The best you can do is stay quiet and let them be salty.
How do I let me be salty. How does Tom Brady cope with a Sunday night loss, I wonder. What happens in those hours and days right after. I suspect more than just Coach’s yells and gritting teeth and shoulder pads throw in the direction of lockers, more than just I Will Work Harder. I suspect replays in minds and on screen of what was done both poor and well. Being humbled by assumptions brought to light. Learning you weren’t who you thought you were. I suspect denial, and bargaining. I suspect a cycle of grief.
But then who are we grieving for? It must be ourselves. It must be the person I was this morning, before I opened the lid of my laptop, before I sat down at the table, before I took the field. That person is gone now. That person dies with each defeat (and some victories, too). A loss is a loss.
How to properly mourn that person, how to properly be in grieving for that person who is both me and not me. This is my theme for the week, dear friend. My work on the new draft is loaded toward the front and I have a worthy opponent. The early-season schedule is tough and some days I haven’t wanted to get out of bed. My record is three and three. But I’m learning, I think – I hope – to accept with grace both victory and defeat.