Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well. – Josh Billings
Forest Gump said life was like a box of chocolates. I think life is like a game of cards.
Most mornings, “to wake up properly”, I play a game of solitaire on my iPad. It’s one of those 70+ apps, but I play a rotation of 6 games, having recently added another one to the mix. I like the variety of playing different games, but the OCD part of me plays them in alphabetical order. The shiny penny part often forgets what the process is as they all have different ways of playing the game. Now do you see why I said it’s like life?
Most of us get bored doing the same thing, but it’s comfortable, so we keep playing the same game. This morning, the game on duty was Forty Thieves. I very seldom win that game, but when the rotation comes around, I play it. Today was one of those days when I would move a card, but because it wasn’t the right move for the game, it kept going back to where it was. I stopped, checked what game I was playing and moved a different card.
Sometimes we just go off and do things, on automatic pilot and doing it because that’s what we have always done. Which explains why we have what we have always had. Go on, live a little… try something different. If the traffic sucks on that road, try a different route. Instead of just smiling politely at someone, say hello. Instead of going through life settling for the same things, shake it up a bit. Try some different moves.
Another tactic I use when I play my games is to leave an open space on the board as soon as I can. I do that so I can manoeuvre, or a nice Africa slang word, jigga-jigga. I don’t think I have lost any games because of it, but I know I have won quite a few. The comparison to life? Don’t rush into things. The military has the sequence – ready, aim, fire – for a reason. But no, we go charging into something, most times blindly and then surprised if it doesn’t work out. Leave some room – it’s not an escape plan or being negative, it’s being prepared. It reminds me of the exit lane in the parking garages, so you can pay your parking ticket without causing a huge commotion behind you.
Next tactic is I go back. If I have some open slots, instead of going to the next face-down card on the stack, I’ll take the discarded one. I know what it looks like, I can see it and I know at that moment I can’t use it, but I don’t remember the card that was under that one until I remove it. I do this every time there is an opening. Once all the face-down cards are dealt, that is it, game over. See the similarity to life with that one?
The reason this move resonates so much with me is that most of the time, we can go back. We can go back and apologise for something we have done. We can go back and fix what we messed up. We can go back on our behaviour and improve it. We can always change things to make it better, we just aren’t conditioned to do that.
And, like cards, if you lose one hand, you can be dealt another. After all, you don’t know when the final hand will be…
Until next time, don’t hold your aces, play them!