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Winning

December 2, 2019

This past Friday Charli Mills shared the results of the Carrot Ranch 2019 Flash Fiction Rodeo. Before I say anything else, if you like to write and if you like Flash Fiction and if you’re not kicking up some dust over at the Carrot Ranch, you might want to check it out. I’m always hesitant to tell people what they “should” do, but if you checked all those “if” boxes above, I think it’s a place you’ll enjoy. The Ranch is just one click away right here. It’s a very welcoming community with plenty of space around the campfire.

This week’s prompt follows the announcement of the 2019 Rodeo finalists and winners and asks us to write a story about winners –

In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about winners. Who are they, what’s the mood, and what did they win? Express emotion or subdue it. Go where the prompt leads!

Charli always tells us to go where the prompt leads and this week that prompt is leading me in a direction away from a story and more toward, I don’t know… a part of me, I guess. Winning is difficult. We live in a society that places an enormous value on winning and if you’re a person who lives with even a teardrop of shame in your head, thoughts of winning, or having to win in order to be good, or to be accepted, not to mention its opposite, can be difficult thoughts, if not impossible, to explain to oneself.

Thoughts of ‘winning’ can be overwhelming and disruptive because what does it mean (what does it say about you) if you don’t “win”? I’m not good enough? They’re better? I should have tried harder? And what is winning? Being the best? What defines the “best”? Being perfect? What is perfect? Being better than others? What others and why do we want to be ‘better’ than them? For a lot of folks it takes tremendous strength in life to tie their shoes and walk out the front door, so my thinking is that just trying is where the real success – where winning – lies.

As I steamroll way past 99 words what it all boils down to for me is courage. Just trying takes courage and you don’t win or lose when you try. Putting on your shoes: courage. Taking a step outside: courage. Taking a deep breath and saying “hello” to someone: courage. Trying to do something that makes your head spin with uncomfortable thoughts: courage. Trying something difficult even though it hurts inside: courage.

Courage = winning.

Books form a large part of my value system and I’m reminded of a passage in To Kill a Mockingbird where Atticus Finch is explaining Mrs. Dubose to Jem and he tells Jem, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” – Harper Lee

Sometimes you do, but it doesn’t matter because you tried. That’s it.

And to any of the finalists or winners of the Carrot Ranch 2019 Flash Fiction Rodeo who happen to find their way over here – congratulations!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2019 7:15 pm

    It’s always okay to go where the prompt leads. Yep, “winning” is a complex idea, especially when it is oversimplified. Your post reminds me that we have no idea when we see someone just what their challenges are, what they might have already battled with just to get to the track.
    So… have you considered TUFFing this out and getting it to 99 words? (there’s tons of time…)

    Like

  2. December 4, 2019 6:53 pm

    Thank you for going where the prompt led, Michael! I appreciate your words because I know they will resonate with others. Winning is fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. Winners are those who muster courage to try.

    Like

  3. denmaniacs4 permalink
    December 4, 2019 7:59 pm

    Good post, Michael and extracts from To Kill a Mockingbird are always winners in my book…

    Like

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