Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Game of Chance or Skill?

Board and cards games are metaphors for life.  The outcome is a combination of chance and skill and involves interactions with another player or with other players.  The game is played best when one is mindful of the moment, carefully observing the play as it occurs.  One can rail at one's bad luck when one is dealt a bad hand, draws the wrong card, or has an unfortunate roll of the dice or spin of the wheel.  The alternative is to realize that what appears as a bad run of luck often works to one's advantage, transforming an unfavorable position into a favorable one because of subsequent events in the course of the game.  The joy of playing is the purpose of the game, rather than the winning of it.  In winning, someone else has to lose, but, when the reason for playing is the enjoyment of the game itself, winning and losing become irrelevant.

The sudden realization of these truths that can be learned by playing a game came as a surprise this morning as several of us set around a table playing a game of Spades.  Usually, i bid conservatively in fear of going set.  Today i decided to bid honestly, based on the hand i was dealt with no worrying about failure to make my bid.  As we played, the revelation that there was greater joy in playing the game struck me, and it mattered little whether i won the hand or the game; the game itself was what brought joy.  The challenge was to play with the greatest skill i could muster, not to score the most points.

Can we live our lives that way?  Can we find joy just in the living of life, not fearing what might be lost, thereby living guardedly, but rather living with the greatest skill we can?  Can we transform what we perceive as misfortune into an advantage, making opportunities from perceived setbacks?  My prayer for this moment is that life for each of us is lived as a great adventure that brings joy, peace, & satisfaction.

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