The Perks of Being a Loser

Willy Beachum is prosecuting Ted Crawford, a wealthy senior, for attempted murder. Crawford has confessed to have shot his wife in the face, leading to her being in the state of a coma. The case looks like a no-brainer from the surface: though the gun left in the crime scene shows no sign of having been fired and no other weapon is found, there is a signed confession from Crawford, admitting to his crime. Beachum finds nothing to worry about the case, even when the witness warns him in private that Crawford must be having something planned all out. He was wrong to take the warning for granted. Crawford is released soon after that, for no one or no evidence has been discovered to prove him guilty, something that sounds impossible just several days before. Willy Beachum is shocked and humiliated for that. Prior to the court day, he came to the prison to give Crawford a folder of evidence so that the defendant could prepare his defense in front of the jury. Crawford talked in a creepy manner that may have scared and repelled Beachum at the same time; but he was absolutely right about one thing: he has found Beachum’s weak spot, which is that Beachum is a winner. (*)

It just struck me for the very first time that being a winner could easily be a weakness. Beachum lost because he was too arrogant and over-confident. He forgot how it felt to be a loser.

Then how is it like to be a loser?

A loser is socially defined as someone who has failed in life: stuck in a dead-end job, being a pathetic loner, failing to achieve personal goals, falling in a serious breakdown, and at one point, he would find himself in an endless fix that he has little chance of getting out. If the story of one’s life ends just there, that apparently is one Shakespeare-type tragedy. Fortunately for us, life could be a very long war, where we may lose some battles, but win the others. So let’s just say, there are still some perks of being a (temporary) loser.

First off, being a loser forces us to look closely at ourselves. So at the end of the day, who are we? Are we really that shiny genius who has accomplished everything, or are we just running around, chasing after delusional goals and being trapped in a dogma? Are we doing what we want? When under the light of success, we are pushed towards the future, and sometimes the train just moves too fast for us to clearly see what are passing by on either side of our road. A failure, on the other hand, creates a small cave for us to stay in and feel a little more secured. There, in the very inner world of our own, we see the battle we have been shedding tears and sweats to thrive and to fall, and maybe it just wasn’t worth it.

Being a loser gives us time. It matters how we use this little extra gift: whether we spend our time in drowning our sorrows, or we recreate ourselves. That may sound idealistic, but just think about the best TV series of all time, Breaking Bad, the whole idea was formed during the time its genius creator Vince Gilligan was unemployed. So I guess idle hands don’t always make evils. All this terrible loser-being time, we are desperate for some kind of achievement, hence we take solace in imagination and creativity. We have time and we have space for doing that.

One day I was jogging in the park. It was a very sunny day, and I was the only one. As I sat down in a bench overlooking to the lake, I was listening to Dead Man’s Bones’ “Buried in Water”. I looked up at the sky above me, which was crystal blue like the ocean, and it just dawned on me that under that blue sky, it feels we are all buried under water.

It’s not bad being a loser at some point in life, as long as we don’t plan to stay there for good.

(*) The story above is taken from the movie Fracture, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as Ted Crawford.

Da Ly


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