I dropped into the neighbourhood thrift shop this morning and found, nestled beside a long row of moldy VCR movies, The Game Of Life. Dusting off the board game and my childhood memories, I definitely thought the game seemed bigger and more vibrant back then. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the game, it more or less reflects the modern conquest of the American Dream from college to retirement. Go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, incur debts from luxury spending, and get to retirement more or less intact.
My friends and I usually grew tired of the regular rules, so we modified them so that you could really burn through money in the game, which usually resulted in selling the car, spouse, and kids (another rule modification) to keep up with our luxurious habits and debts. And of course, whenever we came to the marriage stop, we never grew tired of putting two blue or two pink sticks in the car. I’m pretty sure every normal kid did the same thing too.
The game’s principal concept made me think about how most of us play the real Game of Life:
Get to the end as comfortably as possible.
This, of course, involves taking as few risks as possible. Or settling for less than you’d like. It may also include other minute details such as criticizing those that fall out of bounds, feigning happiness with superficial wealth, unconstrained consumption and accumulation, letting a past injustice dominate your life, or defining your entire existence, your purpose in life and the justification of your circumstances, to your spouse and kids.
I actually won’t say the above is wrong. I really mean it. People come from all walks of life, have different pursuits, and similarly possess varying tolerance levels for risk and failure (note: these two are inversely related, if one applies him/herself correctly) . I confess too, that once in a blue moon, I fantasize about negotiating my way back into The Matrix. The ones with the highest tolerances, however, seem to have come from backgrounds where their Game of Life is much more humble. Think of the number of immigrants who’ve really made their mark in the world. You might even know some of them as your parents or grandparents.
Of course, if you’re reading this post, then comfort is something you’ve probably learned to simultaneously