yellow girl wall

When we were children, it was the air of being a grown up that enticed us. We could choose a job, buy a car and within a few turns get married and have kids — so many kids they did not fit in the car. Being an adult was effortless, and life was a game — literally.

These days, when I play with the kids, “The Game of Life” has a different allure. Because we live in a culture suggesting we always put more on our plate, work longer hours and buy more gadgets, the simplicity of the game pulls me in. I’m drawn to the two-option choices, the roll of dice revealing my fate, the trivial decision between the Dream Villa or the City Penthouse as my second home.

While “The Game of Life” generally differs from the reality of adult life, I find myself analyzing, looking for places where Life gives insight to how we should experience our own. I’m not of the persuasion “whoever has the most gold, wins,” as is true of the game rules, but there are valuable pieces of truth to find in even a board game.

life game

You cannot control everything and that is ok.

There is something freeing about rolling the dice and realizing the outcome of the game is entirely up to chance. While hard work and decision-making-skills pay off in the real world, there is also freedom in accepting we aren’t entirely in control. When we relinquish what we cannot control (coworkers, the weather, if the subway will be on time), we make better decisions about the influence we do have. We won’t waste energy or time trying to manipulate it all.

Life is short and should be enjoyed.

No matter how long the dry seasons feel or how quickly our favorite days pass, all of life is temporary. We need that reminder when circumstances bog us down. In “The Game of Life” you go from college to retirement in less than an hour and when playing with the right people, that time is filled with laughter, community, good music and fun drinks. These are the moments to cherish and hold close. They pass quickly.

Pursue simplicity.

The idea of finding a job, getting married, having kids and riding through life sounds blissfully simple. Reality is often more complicated. Pursuing a simple life doesn’t mean it won’t be busy. However, it does mean life has a trajectory.

In “The Game of Life” there is an end goal and every roll of the dice moves you one step closer. So while your life may be busy because you enjoy socializing with friends after work, you have multiple children or a few jobs, that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue simple. Find your life vision and weed out commitments which don’t align with your goals. You can intentionally pursue life and not just let it pursue you.

Investing in children is worth it.

While it’s easy to forget about the next generation, especially if you aren’t an educator or don’t have kids of your own, investing in children can make your life fuller. Children challenge us to see the world in a different way and love with abandon. Even if you’re not ready to have children, you can still enjoy friends’ kids or volunteer. In giving to youth around you, you’ll find growth in your own life as well.

Find your life vision and weed out commitments which don’t align with your goals. You can intentionally pursue life and not just let it pursue you.

Whoever finishes first doesn’t always win.

Life isn’t a race, and while we so easily measure ourselves by who has the most likes, the most beautiful features or busiest schedule, it is the full life that ultimately wins the game. In “The Game of Life” the player who finishes first gets a bonus, but they do not necessarily come out on top. So while it’s easier to spend energy comparing our lives with others’ standards, the most fulfilling way to spend our time is making and achieving our own goals.

Nuggets of Wisdom From the Game of Life (the Actual Game) | DARLING

Sharing the road with others makes the journey.

We sat around laughing, I don’t even remember about what. We were all together with our cars in different spots on the board. It was being around the table in fellowship that made our joy complete. It is the community we build around us — the people at work, in our neighborhood, the possible-friend we always see at our favorite café — who make life full of potential. When the end of the day rolls around, those we love and show kindness to all influence us and build on our journey. We are all in it together, friends.

Have you learned any nuggets of wisdom from a board game? Which ones?

Illustration via Melanie Loon; Images via Tess Comrie


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