about games — pente, mahjong, chess. Cultures world over and through time have made games from stones, bones, and sticks. In the first grade classes I taught, we played ancient games and talked about how they worked. Games enjoy a rich history of offering thinking and problem solving as a form of deep and satisfying pastime and entertainment between people who share a relationship.
Of course, the commercial board game — slick, colorful, and packaged — that I played with my six cousins weren’t so . . . um. . . so meaningful. Deep down inside some were quite shallow, and they broke easily. Some were lame, and some were just plain boring.
The first thng we did when we played was go over the rules — rules. We would find the Instructions — instructions. The first item was always the Object of the Game. Even the “little kids — Nancy and Paul” figured out that’s how to know who won. We got that settled right out of the box even before we argued who’s turn it was to go first. I was long past having the rights of “company” in their house. I was a relative. (Company always goes first.)
I’m a Boomer. We grew up in a board game culture. It affected us. I see it still.
What I see, might surprise some, is that few of us care about the “Object of the Game.” As I look back, I wonder how many of us ever did. I notice so many ways of approaching life the same way we did those board games when we were kids.
Some folks play to win. They buy and sell companies. They live in a world of properties on a Monopoly board — people who work in those properties aren’t figured in.
Some folks decide early that they’ve lost. They give up, almost before they start. If they quit, they never lost.
Me? I’m the youngest by a lot of years. Maybe that’s why I never cared about winning. Maybe my gene pool is just wired that way. My outlook was more about the people who were playing alongside me. Big surprise there, I know.
I still feel that way.
If I get too far ahead, I slow down, because I don’t want things to be over too soon. For me, it’s about walking down the street side by side — it’s a road trip in between turns — not who is first to walk to the corner shop.
Sure, I like to do well, but I like to do good even more. Most of all, I care about doing things that are meaningful. Meaning is so much more when other people, by their existence, make the object of the game unimportant in comparison.
For me, it was about playing — not “how you play the game,” but actually playing. You know, having fun, enjoying the folks that were there, laughing, being who we are, and getting out from under the stuff.
Laughter is good for the brain and the soul.
It’s cool to win the day, to win a heart, to win that proposal that we’re passionately working toward . . . it’s also great to lose self-consciousness, to lose myself in a moment, to get lost in a discussion of deep and heartfelt thoughts . . .
. . . as long as I keep my head connected to my heart.
Playing doesn’t take nearly as much imagination as trying to be grownup.
The object of life is to be alive.
That’s my agenda. This weekend, I’m gonna give it a shot.