As Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth:
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
All of the issues in our lives are serious.
Financial lack, spiritual search, relationship problems, career or vocational uncertainties. Equally our actions in life clearly have consequence.
You can help a person with food, create a new drug that cures cancer or a formula that explains the universe.
But in the end, being a spec of dust hurtling through the vacuum of space over the next 100,000 years will any of that matter?
That person you fed may go on to cure cancer and discover the formula for unified field theory, but he too will be forgotten as ‘human’ species goes onto focus on ‘new diseases’ and ‘resolve the next scientific mystery.’
This wonderful paradox makes up the game called life. The game looks like this.
You are born and awaken, then at some point you die. In between you experience a trillion sensations, and those sensations make up what you call reality.
It is inside the experience of those sensations and so called reality that you experience feedback. You take certain actions and something appears to occur. Inside that occurring you find yourself attributing language and meaning to moments in time.
That meaning then serves as a feedback loop for you to self-reflectively evaluate your sensations, giving rise to new meaning and more new sensations. At some point the school bell rings and your heart beat stops.
That is the game.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow especially if you are engaged in a self-attributed meaningful endeavour. If you feel that you are out for legacy and make a meaningful difference in the world, then you create the meaning that you matter and that it is for something.
Otherwise, you are left with the at times incomprehensible and cruel meaning that it is all empty and absolutely for nothing.
But either of those two attributions, that life is for something or it is for nothing and empty both perfectly fit inside the game.
As a player of the game that we will call ‘human’, you get this thing called awareness. Awareness or consciousness is this strange sense of observing your life, feelings, sensations, experiences, perceptions.
It is like you are given an ability to participate in the game, but also observe you participation in it. This we will call one of the ‘underlying fundamentals.’
As with all games, it makes it more fun when you take it seriously. It’s no fun playing a game when you don’t play for keeps, or to win.
Just hitting the tennis ball without aim isn’t anywhere near as fun as trying to play within the lines and aim your shots.
Part of being human is ‘forgetting’ that life is just a game. In fact, the most joyous and torturous part of life is that we make our lives super important, meaningful and rich with experience.
The cost of this ‘meaningful life’ is that your experience in the game is filled with duality. Good-bad, right-wrong, happy-sad, pain-pleasure, power-powerless, joy-sad, creative-destructive on it goes.
But as with the game of tennis, or indeed life, in the final analysis whether the ball lands in the lines or not, whether it is a winner or not, or if you win on the score board or not, the game ends and the racquets go back in the bag and it remains inconsequential in the scheme things.
There is always another game coming up, the court will occupy new players. Those players will again experience the same general sets of challenges and rewards, but their game too will end.
New racquets, faster balls, better shoes may change the dynamics of the game but not its costs or rewards, they remain the same.
Pity the player that takes the game too seriously, and shame on the player that doesn’t try. Ultimately, the game is played, it starts and ends, something in between is the heavenly send.
Poetry – so beautiful. Ok, back to the article.
What of all this talk about tennis, and how does it apply to life?
For anyone who has played the game of tennis or for that matter any other game or sport or participated in any competition:
You will quickly realise that the true satisfaction of a game comes not from the moment you shake hands with victory or collect the gold model, but rather from the composition and symphony of the thousands of balls hit throughout the match, the mini victories, the losses, the comebacks the down-and-outs and up-and-follow-throughs.
See, you cannot separate the emotions, feelings, tears and joys from the game. It is the transcendence of those emotions, the ‘getting beyond yourself’ that makes it so fulfilling to participate and play the game.
Deep down we know the game we choose to play really doesn’t matter, but we choose to make it matter.
Those that play the game of life most fully, with the most meaning are those that most experience the greatest volatility in their emotions.
To participate in life, to take action requires the willingness to hit the ball into the net, slip up and fall and get hit in the face while volleying. But the more those that play, play, the better it gets, the easier it is to handle losing and making errors.
Because of all the times you hit the ball poorly, the more you can enjoy the game and can hit the ball well.
Eventually, you forget about trying to hit the ball in life correctly or well at all and you start dancing with it like it’s a waltz and each shot is a unique beautiful experience in and of itself.
At this point, you have left the game as a ‘judgement’ and have become that awareness and observation just noticing and effortlessly and effortfully executing the performance.
That is the point where you become ‘in love’ with the sport, yourself and the game called ‘human’. The game couldn’t be played without your villain, your hero, your opposition and your supporters. They all came together and make the game worth playing at all.
So remember, life is a game, but don’t treat it like that, play it to win just don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy it’s paradox and at one moment or another you’ll find yourself in a waltz with it and you’ll understand why it was worth playing in the first place.