I’m not playing that game

When young kids are challenged by their older siblings to a game they knows they can’t win, they say, “I’m not playing that game.”

I thought of that as I walked around my local mall, full of advertising and places to shop, full of goods and services, full of people wanting things and buying things. Fulfilling their psychological need for the next moment, the next thing, the next fix.

How much is enough? How big is big enough? How nice is nice enough? How cool is cool enough? There is no “enough”. Because no matter how much we have, we always want [or is that “need”] more.

Like the game Monopoly, the objective of the game is to acquire. You accumulate everything you can. The only way to win is to make a total commitment to acquisition. Money and possessions is the way you keep score. And there’s no limit as to how much you should acquire, or as to how far you’ll go to screw over the other guy. Bring it on!

But there is one big difference between the game we play, and the game of Monopoly. At the end of Monopoly, everything goes back into the box. All the houses and hotels. All the railroads and utility companies. All of that wonderful money. It all goes back in the box, because none of it is really yours. It’s just a big, fat game.

So ask yourself, when you finally do get the BIG promotion; when you have bought the house of your dreams; when you get to buy the car you always wanted; when you have saved lots of money, and climbed the ladder of success to the highest rung you can possibly climb – and the thrill wears off [because it always wears off] – “What now?”.

And in that moment you will see that it will never be enough. You will know that he or she who dies with the most toys, is still dead. You will realise that you are being played, and that this is a game you cannot win. And then, like the young boy who’s challenged by his older siblings to a game he knows he can’t win, you will say, “I’m not playing that game.”

Perhaps I am being a little unrealistic here. After all, we do need goals, targets, milestones, and accomplishments. And oftentimes they are about building a career that involves making money and acquiring some stuff along the way.

And that’s fine … as long as you know it’s a game that you’re playing. As long as you don’t get so wrapped up in the game that you think it’s for real. As long as you don’t try and pretend [seriously] that this is what matters. As long as you’re prepared to put it all back in the box, because deep inside you know that none of it is really yours.

Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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