I often think of death.
As my dad once said to me, “We all gonna die”, but it’s hard to really understand that concept and get it in my gut.
I know I’m not making it out of this thing alive and you know that, but do we really, really KNOW?
My time may come in the next 5 minutes, the next 5 months, or the next 5 years. Who’s to say? Nothing is certain in life, everything is impermanent, and life isn’t fair.
Given that death is certain for us all, the question then becomes…
how do I want to live my life? Not in the future, but right now?
This question puts my entire life in perspective. More on this later.
I’m becoming more and more aware that everything’s made up, and I say “more aware” because it’s easy to forget. It’s easy to forget that society, and all the games we play within it, are made up.
The games of education and school.
The games of service and work.
The games of acquiring money and stuff.
The games of relationships, status and cultural relevance.
The games of politics, religion, racism, sexism or any ism you can conjure.
The games of anything you can imagine.
When I say games, it doesn’t mean that life is not ‘real’ or ‘serious’ to you. I’m not minimizing what anyone does on a daily basis, but I am saying that if you look at it deeply, see things with a fresh mind, then you may realize the absurdity of what we put ourselves through, each and every day of our lives.
I say it’s absurd given the outcomes and long term effects of these games: people mask their feelings through drugs, escape through entertainment, or commit violent or criminal acts because these games are confusing and frustrating to play. Sometimes, people just want to have the feeling of ‘winning’, even if they have to cheat to get it.
Should the games people play, fun or serious, bring out the best in you or a lesser version of who you are? For me, I want to play a game that’s worth playing, a game that helps me grow and allows me to be my best self, whether I win the championship or not.
Real life games
It’s important to note that serious games also contain the same elements and principles of fun games.
For example, every game has an overarching goal. There are rules that govern the players. Sometimes those players wear a uniform and use equipment to play the game well. Judges or referees are there to enforce the rules. The coaches or managers are there to help guide you or give you a strategy.
There’s a way to keep score and some kind of prize or award that people are playing for. And there’s the perception of winners and losers – you may not use those terms given the context of your situation, but terms like ‘success’ and ‘failure’ still hold the same meaning.
To give a real life example of serious games in life, take a look at the following infographics (click twice to see them in their full glory):
In the first infographic, you can clearly see who’s making policy (the rules of the game). Think about it. If you could make the rules of the game anyway you wanted, would you purposely give your team an unfair advantage? Of course you wouldn’t.
Remember who’s making those policies from the first infographic? Now you see who is impacted. What do you think?
The ‘racism’ game is a good example of serious games.
There are players, and they have a uniform (skin color) so you know who’s on what team, and the challenges or ‘hurdles’ a team must overcome is determined by their uniform.
There are referees and judges to enforce unfair practices, but those unfair practices ARE the rules of the game.
And there’s a way to keep score.
Race-ism is the ‘perfect’ term to use because that’s precisely what it is – a race. Whoever came up with that term ‘race’ understood the impact it would have on society, and the various ‘teams’ it would impact.
Imagine one team runs the race without any obstacles, hindrances, or the least amount of challenge. The competing teams have parachutes strapped to their backs to slow them down, oil slicks that cause them to slip when they run, or 3-5 foot hurdles to jump over. Who has a better chance of winning?
With that understanding, look at those infographics again. How is it possible that skin color determines performance, outcomes, and your ultimate place in society? It boggles the mind and is just not possible – UNLESS – the ‘race’ is fixed.
This is just one example of a made-up game we’re choosing to play. Yes, it is a choice, but we can decide to keep playing this game, play a different game, or create a new game.
Some may balk and say, “We don’t have a choice, this is the way it is”, and I say bullish*t. Either you’re creating or co-creating your reality, or you’re NOT.
To say, “this is the way it is”, is creating the reality of what you already observe.
To say, “this is how it is now, and we can change this”, is creating the reality of your imagination. Being victimized is one thing, remaining a victim is another.
You have a choice to repeat what you experience or create something new – observation or imagination. Stay in observation mode and you will mirror what you see, day in and day out. Options will be limited only to what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. If you live in a certain area all your life then your culture, the rules you live by, and the world you experience will be similar to what others experience from that area.
If you choose imagination, then the paths and possibilities are endless. The game of life opens up and you’re no longer limited to other people’s creations. You have to still act on your imagination to make it happen. Living in your head doesn’t count for much in this life.
I’m creating a new game for myself. Here’s what I know so far:
- I want to work and have relationships with people that energize, support, and ‘get’ me
- I want to do work that’s meaningful, makes me look forward to it, and challenges me to bring my ‘A’ game everyday
- I want to live in full self-expression, totally being myself, and put myself in situations that bring out my best qualities
I’m sure I’ll add more bullets later, but three is enough for now. These three bullets alone cause me to reflect on my current state, and make me question the work I spend most of my time doing, the quality of impact I’m having, as well as my current lifestyle.
I will look at myself deeply over the next few days and will be making some tough decisions soon.
Either I can continue to recreate what I have already experienced, with the same players, in similar settings, and familiar story lines…
I can begin to create an entirely new life for myself, one that really inspires me to grab the chance to create a new culture of work, and realize the opportunity to live life on my terms, not somebody else’s creation.
Is the game you’re playing bringing out your absolute best? Are you playing a game you don’t care for? If not, will you create a new game for yourself, or continue as you are?
I’ll ponder these questions. More later.