Winning isn’t everything

It’s actually the losses that give us our greatest lessons

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

We were replacing the entire network in a plant in Windsor, CT. I was the on-site technical resource. The equipment arrived in plenty of time. I had almost three weeks to rack, stack and power up every network device save the wireless access points (they would need to wait until go-live so as to not interfere with wireless communications beforehand).

On the day of implementation, I arrived at the facility thirty minutes before necessary. One final check, then I joined the conference call bridge and we began to convert the site over to the new infrastructure. Everything went exactly according to plan. I moved the primary network cable from the old switch to the new core and the entire site came up live on the new hardware.

Except for two wireless access points…..

We spent the next twenty-seven hours (three Cisco support engineer shifts) troubleshooting these two devices. Just as we were about to run out of time, the final engineer tried something that wasn’t in the playbook. The access points responded and we finalized implementation with less than an hour of downtime to play with, from a twenty-four-hour downtime window.

When I wrote up the post-mortem for management (this was the very first implementation in the country) I made sure to include the line “if everything had gone to plan, we wouldn’t be prepared for this the next time it happened”. I have personally done three more of these implementations since then. Every single site has experienced a similar issue but, since we ran into it in the pilot, we’ve been able to resolve it within minutes. You don’t know what you don’t know until it bites you in the ass.

The same can be said for relationships.

I had a fantastic marriage. For nineteen years. Truthfully, the only complaint I would have ever leveled was that we didn’t have as much sex as I would have liked. She loved her job. She wanted kids. With all of her heart. And she was the best mom I could have ever imagined. In turn, I had a job I really liked. I’d never really given kids a whole lot of thought but I was game since she wanted them so much. And I found that I really enjoyed being a dad. Especially to little kids. I worked a second shift for years just so I could be an involved father.

As time went on, she gave me the freedom to pursue my interests. Cycling, boat building, hunting and fishing. Lots of rather lonely pursuits. She loved her job but drew a hard line between her home life and her work life. Consequently, I had the emotional support I needed at home. We shared the housework and the child rearing, mostly evenly. At least I believe so. She certainly never complained about it. And I wasn’t hit with a bunch of surprise “adulting” challenges when she passed away. There were very few things about being a father and a “household manager” that I wasn’t already involved with and cognizant of.

But when she died and I had to learn how to become a whole human without the emotional support she had always provided? Yea, that presented challenges I’m still grappling with.

I need very little from a relationship. Connection, absolutely. And I first seek that sexually. I’m not sure I know how to find it in friendships or even dating. But when I have that spark with someone? Yea, we both walk away knowing it’s the best sex we’ve ever had. It’s taken me a long time to realize that it’s not really the sex. It’s the connection that makes the sex so great. Not the other way around.

It’s impossible to maintain that connection with just sex though. It can be good, even great, for a long time. But one day you wake up and she says “we need to talk”. And you realize there’s nothing else there. The kind of person I am makes it really hard to face a truth like that.

“Hearts don’t break around here.” — Ed Sheeran

It’s a lesson no one wants to learn. Still, it’s better to have loved and lost than to have lived the rest of your lives in misery because you were unable or unwilling to accept failure. You see that kind of failure every day in restaurants, two people, ostensibly in a relationship, staring at their cell phones while on a “date”.

Then there’s the relationship that’s just cosmic in scope. The sex is out of this world. Every waking moment is consumed with thoughts of a grand future together. Two people rocketing into the unknown with no foot on the brakes.

The thing is, one’s driving a Ferrari and the other is in a vintage Jeep (that would be me, BTW). They’re moving at phenomenally different speeds. And not paying attention to the fact that one can’t really keep up. Love can’t bridge this gap either. Still, do we forego a love like this given the opportunity? Oh, hell no!

There will be damage. A crash is inevitable. But you learn SO MUCH. Is it worth it? That’s a question only you can answer. It’s highly unlikely the person whose heart you just ripped to shreds will ever understand (she does, I think, but it took a lot of growth, on both of our parts to get there).

Failure is never failure. Unless you stop trying. It’s opportunity. For growth, for change. For improvement. The only time you fail is when you give up. Take every relationship you have as a lesson into your future. Maybe, if you’re really lucky, someday you’ll have something as good as what I had with my wife. I know I hope to, someday, have something like that again.

Thanks for reading.

Written by

father, motorcyclist, old retired guy who’s just a little lost on a blue marble corkscrewing its way to oblivion

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