Holding our finite games lightly
I was talking with my friend John the other day about how to navigate through life when almost all your time is taken up with finite games. There’s the mortgage with its lifetime of repayments; not to mention the dread of dropping house prices. Ha! Loser! You bought at the wrong time. Now you will never, ever be able to win at the game. Then there’s the body project, trying to keep up with the barrage of health advice to eat this or that, exercise in this or that way, avoid nasty chemicals, and most of all not get stressed or once again - you lose! A debilitating disease awaits you, probably the very one you were trying to avoid. And of course the family, with its obligation to supervise children in playgrounds made of plastic and plan your holidays around their locations, weddings, ailments and other peculiarities. Gosh, family is the most important thing.
All of these games offer moments of fun, human warmth, giving of your best and so on, but the overall effect is that there is no room to move. Was life always like this we wondered, for other people in other times? What does it mean to play an infinite game in this context? Well of all the answers human wisdom has provided, the one that floated to us while we sat in my Honda Logo on that warm autumn night, is to try and hold your finite games lightly. To know that ultimately and perhaps even right now, they don’t really matter. To remember that there is relief in failure, the relief of not having to try anymore. Hope, as Joanna Macey has written, can be exhausting. Every so often, instead of being inspired to climb the ladder of success by those who have done so before you, try being inspired by those who failed. Good people who tired their best at the very games you are playing and lost. They, just like those who won, have a place in the grand human narrative. Liberation, we figured, doesn’t lie in giving up all our finite games but in trying to grip less, care less, fear less in relation to them. Maybe if we do this, the infinite game will become more apparent, more alive, more beckoning. Maybe we will see how we already play it as best we can, and with that insight be able to take it to the next level.
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