I'm having a thought: the classic strategy on how to play life is to pick a goal, a far out into the future goal, that will define the direction of your life. A lot of times this is a profession -- teacher, priest, fireman (Apparently, in my mind, two and a half out of three professions are for men.)-- and/or a life style like parent of children, home owner, world traveler, etc. And then once this end point is determined, life is played in pursuit of it, making various moves (school, experience, friends) in order to get there.

You see this, you know what I'm talking about, right? It's the whole "what am I going to do with my life" conundrum.

Well, I've been think a lot about Euchre lately, a four-person, trick-taking, partner card game. My mom's side of the family plays it a lot, and I'm really good. How it works is that you are partners with the person across from you, and between you both, you are trying to take more tricks than the other two folks. Betting (called "ordering it up"), before hand, that you can accomplish this wins you the right to influence trump; the downside is if you fail, the other team scores more points than they would if you hadn't bet. (And if I haven't yet forced you to play this game with me, you know we're not good friends.)

I've found by playing and watching my family play, that most often, aggressive play is rewarded. Ordering it up on middling cards most of the time pans out better than passing. My aunt Yvonne plays very aggressively, often saying "Best I got." to explain her nearly reckless card playing. And she wins almost always.

Well, I was thinking on the train: what if that is an alternative to how we're taught to play life? Calling trump before you look at your cards has no advantages, and maybe betting on something many years in the future is not a good idea either.

I've heard metaphors about "playing the cards you're dealt" and some such, but that is usually referring to attributes given at birth which play out over a lifetime. But it seems to me that life is dealing new cards all the time; you get more than one hand to play over the years.

And unlike that other thing they told us -- that we could do anything we put our minds to -- the cards make a big difference. There is luck and unfairness involved. And the metaphor, playing life as a kind of Euchre game, allows the recognition of that injustice and of things outside your control, while it allows you to look at the cards you hold right now (not something way out in the future) and figure, "Best I got."

1 comment:

  1. This post is the best you've got. As in, this is the best post you've ever written, I think. This sounds like a book deal to me.

    "Everything I learned about life I learned from playing cards."