Monday, August 23, 2010

Game of Life

It has been awhile since I've written, which is ironic, considering all the fun new things going on in my life as of late. There have been many times that I have thought to write about an event or incident, but was so busy I never got to it, and then moved on to wanting to write about something else.

Therefore the next few entries will probably be a smattering of random thoughts and events that I have had since I started school again. But before I get into that, I want to share a story of something that happened right before I started my new program. An event that, I believe, was both symbolic as well as indicative of not only my past, but of things to come.

It started with a board game.

Yes. A board game. The board came called Life. You remember that one, right? You start off as a tiny pink or blue peg in a little car, you spin the wheel, and hope to end up at "millionaire acres". You can make choices about college, career etc but truth be told, most of the game is left up to chance and the spin of the wheel and/or draw of the cards. There are stops to get married, places you land to have children, and buy a house, etc. You can land on drawing "life tiles" which you keep face down. When you turn them over, there are various accomplishments on the back and an accompanying dollar amount. They range from things like the winning the Nobel Prize, to reading to your child. At the end of the game you get to turn them over and see all the many cool things you accomplished in your life, and collect the associated dollar amounts.

This past August I had gone home to my parent's house and we decided to play said game together. It turns out...that I am a disaster at Life. ( please avoid taking the easy shot. I'm about to say it for you anyways...) I kept landing on things that made me lose my turn like flat tires and car accidents ( how ironic....) and I was spinning more ones and twos than were statistically conceivable. By the time I finished school, both of my parents were easily half way through the game, and when I finally got to the "Get married" square, my parents were 3/4 of the way to the end. ( Again. Resist. Don't worry. It's comin'.) I lost my job twice, lived in the cheapest house that I could get, and had to take about a billion turns to finish off the game once my parents reached the end. I thought for sure I was in dead last place for the game.

However, when we finally added everything up, I had actually won the game. And not just by little...I had slaughtered them both. I was completely shocked. It might sounds stupid and corny, but I immediately thought of several analogies to the real game of life ( at least...MY game of life....)

Yes. Sometimes I am a disaster at REAL life, too. Did I say sometimes?...I meant...something else... like kinda always. ( phew. said it. you can now exhale.) Sometimes I feel like a total "mess in a dress". And I'm sure that that viewpoint is shared by many. I am STILL in school. I'm getting a SECOND masters. In order to accommodate an internship and an honors program, undergrad took me five years. ( Ironically, I did everything for the honors program except the final it only made my coursework take longer because I had to do things like take an advanced math AND an advanced language...AND I voluntarily sold my soul to the HFAC by singing for BYU choir which was one credit but took the time of 5 or 6....) I have been engaged ( and not only once...but a little bit twice...) and I am still not married. To this point I've had very few good relationships, and no good relationships that lasted any considerable length of time... ( anyone getting depressed yet besides me? )

I metaphorically "stumble and fall" a lot. But my reaction when I was such a mess at the game was important...

I laughed.

I mean, come's funny!! Of course there was a little pinch of "ouch. this is hitting a little too close to home..." and then I decided to shrug it off and to laugh. That decision was CRUCIAL to me enjoying the game- just like life. ( as in real life.) Now, I'm not going to pretend that throughout all the disasters of my life that I have always been able to laugh at my situation, but I think that my sense of humor helped me more than I can express, and that a general positive and optimistic attitude is vital to being happy. I might be a disaster...but at least I'm a disaster with a smile on my face who is laughing at herself. ( ALMOST as hard as everyone else....)

I also found it ironic that I was doing a lot better than I thought I was. This was partially due to the life tiles, but I think I also was being hard on myself and only recognizing when something bad happened, and only noticing the good things my parents were "doing".

Why are we so hard on ourselves? When I'm being honest I have to admit that I focus primarily on all the wonderful things that other people do- their talents, their accomplishments, their strengths, and then look at everything that I do wrong. I think that is in part because I don't KNOW what they do wrong, because I'm not always with them whereas I can't get rid of myself, but I also think that bottom line I'm hard on myself. I think we're ALL way too hard on ourselves. And at the end of the day...we're doing better than we think we are.

Also, I think there's something to be said for the fact that you don't get to see what you accomplished until the end of the game. I believe strongly that we are unaware of much of the good that we do, or at least the degree to which it impacts those around us, and that at the end of our life we will be blown away by all the good we accomplished and those we helped.

So yes. In many very real ways I am a total screw up. But overall? I think I'm winning :)


  1. I actually play the blue piece but that's just me.

  2. Dear joe.. "smack" Thats for teasing ashley! And cause I know you will take it like a man.

    Dear ashley.. I love yoru blog. and you. And I miss you. I want to fly out to NY either next summer. If I do, we should plan to get together while I am there. Yes.. I know I am planning this like 8 months in advance.. but I don't want to miss seeing you!

  3. You make me laugh. But on a more serious side, I've learned recently that comparisons suck. We shouldn't compare ourselves to others for any reason. I know people like to say, "Well they have lots of things, but they're in debt up to their eyeballs, and we don't have debt" or whatever, but the truth is we don't know (like you said) and if we did it doesn't matter any way. When we get to the end of our real lives, God isn't going to judge us by comparing us to other people. He has an eternal standard that does not fluxuate base on other people. So we (and by we I mean, I) need to stop making comparisons of all types. That's rad that other people have more or nicer things. And that's where I need to stop. Because it doesn't matter.

  4. ...not to give a first hand example of how I'm a disaster...but...joe...i don't get it...