A few weeks ago, my kids and I were introduced to “The Game of Life” when friends of ours brought it over to play one night. If you aren’t familiar with it, you start off in a car and you make choices along the way. Maybe you decide to go to college. You might pull over to get married and have babies. You might hit the jackpot, find your dream job, or lose big if you decide to take the risky route. Anyway, you get the picture. Since we’d never played before, we read the directions before we started, and under the section, “How to Win”, it says, “The person with the most money at the end wins the game of life.” So, of course, we had a big conversation about how untrue that is in real life, not that this is a new topic around our house.
But it got me to thinking. Can you imagine if the board game resembled actual life? Okay, folks, here are the rules! You’re going to start off in your little car, and the road underneath you is going to be shifting all the time, so there’s no point in giving you a map; good luck figuring out which way to turn! Maybe you’re going to get a great car, and maybe your car is going to be running on fumes, because all the players start out with different advantages. Your home might be full of love, or you might live with an abusive alcoholic, who knows?! Then, you’ll start making your choices, mostly in the dark because you’re supposed to know what you want to do and who you want to be by the time you’re eighteen. And some of you will be nurtured and supported and you’ll have good self-esteem, and some of you will be neglected or mistreated and you won’t believe in yourself at all, so you’ll all have different tools at your disposal. Also, at any time, you could be killed, and so could any of the people you hold most dear. We can’t tell you what happens after you die, or they die, and we can’t tell you how long anyone has, this is all part of the game! Okay, everybody, let’s have some fun!
I mean, seriously, who would want to play that game? It’s crazy, right? But this is the gig. Now, of course, I’m being a little facetious. Because there’s so much that’s amazing and incredible about this experience of being human. So much beauty and depth and love and light and emotion that just fills your heart with yes. Being able to love the way we do, for instance. Being able to care, to extend ourselves, to share, to connect. It’s pretty awesome. But the parameters are crazy, and for a lot of people, they make the game of life a painful journey. You don’t get to know what’s coming. You don’t get to have any reassurance that your big life decisions will pan out the way you hope they will. You don’t get to “pin people down”, or depend on any kind of stability, unless you nurture that within yourself.
And that’s really the key to this game. Figuring out what will bring us peace as we journey onward. It’s the moments. When you look back on your life so far, I’m sure there are moments that stand out. Some of them are beautiful and some of them are devastating. Time folds in on itself, and we can travel back to moments inside of a single blink, a scent on the air, something someone says that jogs a memory we haven’t thought of in years. Maybe we have moments when we felt humiliated, ashamed, caught with our pants down literally or figuratively. Maybe we have moments when our trust was betrayed and we stood in the shower at 3am, our tears and the water mixing together, the pain in our hearts overwhelming. Maybe we have moments when we thought we wouldn’t make it, only to be gifted with the greatest treasure we’ll ever know. But they’re moments that make up the fabric of each of our lives. And they’re borne of our ability to be present and engaged with our intuition. That’s the only worthwhile map you’re going to get. You can’t count on the road to curve a certain way, even if it did yesterday. You can’t count on people to stay the same, because they won’t, and neither will you. You can’t count on conditions around you, because those are also part of nature, and as such, constantly in flux. If you want to “win” this game of life, you have to be true to yourself.
This will almost undoubtedly mean you’ll have some dragons to slay. We all have pain, and our pain is our path, but most people run like hell from it, sending their cars careening this way and that, running into trees, walls, telephone poles, blowing out their tires, and stopping only to get gas. Not a fun way to journey. When you fight for peace within yourself, you might have to pull off to the side of the road for awhile, and it might be deeply uncomfortable or painful, but at least you find liberation that way. So you can get back in your car and slow down, since you now understand there’s no need to race, and that racing will actually cause you to miss precious moments that could have happened if you hadn’t been in such a rush, to what? Escape death? You’ll realize the thing is to roll down your windows and take in the sights and the smells and the colors, to feel the wind whipping through your hair, and the sunlight or the rain on your face. You’ll realize the sound of laughter always trumps the sound of a text message coming in, and that a look from the right person can take your breath away.
The rules aren’t easy, but the experience is incredible. Hoping you’re slowing down and letting in the light. Sending you love, Ally Hamilton