Play It Right
In the game of life, destiny deals us a set of cards – circumstances that we have no choice but to work with. Nevertheless, we are told that it is up to us how we play the game. We could have a great hand and lose, or we could have a lousy hand, play it right, and still win.
In order to attempt to play it right though, we must start by accepting what comes our way as being the result of our own past actions. When faced with difficult situations, we can curse destiny, we can cry and rebel, or we can accept the consequences of our own actions, take responsibility, and try to pick up the pieces.
It would be one thing if we could simply fold and cut our losses. But when there is no such choice in life, if we have to play the game whether we like it or not, then why not play it right?
One of the most effective ways to help us improve our game is to focus on solutions and not simply on the problem. After all, how many times have we been able to clear a traffic jam by swearing our way through it? How many times have we settled our bills by complaining about how expensive things have become? Or how many times have we alleviated pain by moaning and groaning? Rather than spending our time and energy complaining about things and not getting anywhere, it would be a smarter choice to try and focus on a course of action that would help solve these problems.
We have to be careful though, because once we have thought about what we need to do in order to solve a problem, what tends to set in next is worry about the possible outcome of our actions.
Once we take everything into consideration and make a mindful choice on the card that has to be played next, then there is no point worrying. It is understandable to be afraid of some of the possible results, but what is unwise is repeatedly going through them in our head and consequently multiplying our grief.
We can only try our best; other than that there is nothing else we can do. Once the batter is mixed as per the recipe, there is nothing else that needs to be added to it to obtain a sponge cake – it just has to be put into the oven.
Yes, we can pray for it to turn out the way we would like, but even this is not necessary. Our Master will give us that which is best for us; he always does. We should know that there is always some good in whatever he deems fit for us – it is just a matter of focusing on the donut and not on the hole.
After the 17th-century scholar Matthew Henry was accosted by thieves and robbed of his purse, he wrote this in his diary:
Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourthly, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.
As quoted in Every Day Deserves a Chance
Life is about where we choose to put our attention. If we consciously try to allocate our attention to finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems; if we make a mindful effort to do our best given the circumstances and then leave the rest to him who knows better; and if we keep attempting to focus on the positive no matter what may be going on in life, we will find that it is easier for us to cope.
Nevertheless, there will be many times when difficult circumstances will draw our attention forcibly in their direction, making us feel disillusioned, debilitated and perhaps powerless to make the necessary choices.
We have been emphatically reassured over and over again that our worldly and spiritual lives will be taken care of, provided we are sincere in our meditation; that is, sincere in our intention, our preparation and our execution of it. If we keep our part of the bargain every day, come what may, our Master will help us make the necessary decisions.
If we do our meditation, we will know and feel that we are not playing the game of life alone; that the Master-player is on our side, cheering us on, supporting us and doing everything in his power to make sure we end up playing it right!