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If life’s a game – who’s throwing the dice?

August 15, 2011

Looking at life as a game can bring an interesting dynamic to how we experience and interpret what happens to us.

Take the children’s game, “snakes and ladders” for example. Viewed as a metaphor for life, this popular board game takes us through a myriad of ups and downs – and all seemingly without our having a say in the outcome. The dice dictate our future!

But then, who’s choosing to roll the dice?

As the Buddhists know, it’s our “attachment” to things, people and places which cause our suffering – but while this is an easy concept to get your head around intellectually, living it in practice is of course, far harder.

But it’s harder only because we take our lives – and everything in it – so seriously.

I have to confess that the whole “life is a game” philosophy seemed trite when I first heard it – great as an academic exercise but far less credible when you’ve just spilled coffee all over your new suit.

But I began to get it when I found myself – looking for creative inspiration one day – playing solitaire on the laptop. (Rather than viewing this as merely wasting time, I prefer to see this as a modern form of meditation!).

Having mastered the easy version, I knew that I’d win over and over again. But curiously enough, that took the fun out of it.

In order to keep myself engaged with the game, I had to keep pushing myself to the next level of difficulty!

In one of those “aha” moments that in reality only ever seem to happen to other people, I recognized that it was me that was choosing to complicate the game and in the same way, I often choose to complicate my life in order to create an element of challenge.

Without challenge, our life becomes the “same old, same old” – and ultimately pointless. Without challenge, we don’t grow.

As human beings, we have free will – coupled with the ability to create our lives as we choose. And yet, how often do we actually blame “fate” for what happens in our lives, rather than taking responsibility?

Of course, stuff does happen outside of our control – but it is how WE CHOOSE TO RESPOND to it that makes the difference.

All too often, we crave security – and yet once we have it, we complain of being bored.

The truth is, we’re not here to repeat what we already know – instead we’re being invited to create new experiences for ourselves. Each time we do something over again, the thrill is diminished. And it’s good that it is too – as our ennui leads us to be ever more creative, more experimental. Ultimately, security and freedom are at opposite ends of the continuum.

If the challenges we face strengthen us and provide the foundations for future “greatness”, then perhaps we should be encouraged by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles we find in our way.

They’re the “ladders” to our future – and seeing the “snakes” in this way helps free our minds from whether the things that happen to us are “good” or “bad”. From this new vantage point, they’re all “good”!

Seeing it from this perspective helps free the mind from its ego bonds – most of which are based around fear.

Try it for yourself – for the next month, every time something happens to you, remember that you’re the one throwing the dice in your own game. How are the seemingly “negative” things going to help you in the long run? Use your imagination to fast forward into the future – and from this perspective look back to see how your experiences of today provided you with exactly the learning you needed to become the “you” of your future! Try it, I guarantee that you’ll find it a truly liberating experience!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Umang Panchal permalink
    August 16, 2011 8:09 am

    As always Olivia your insights are uncanny in their timing. A great blog which is grounded in reality with a very useable spiritual truth.

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