This week I learned about good news. The idea that the good news is that you don’t get to choose the hand you’re dealt but you have the choice — Cheryl Strayed would say obligation — to play the hell out of the hand you’re dealt. (cf Cheryl Strayed, below)
This is a tough one for me. What does it even mean to play the hell out of the cards you’ve been dealt?
I am famously terrible at playing cards — Every single time I play Hearts, for example, I choose to “Shoot the Moon” which means I basically go for it, all or nothing.
Lots of time I loose. When I win, it’s spectacular. But often I loose.
I’m using that as an example that it isn’t always obvious what “play the hell out of” means.
My “play the hell out of” is going to look different from your “play the hell out of” and — stretching the card playing metaphor to its ultimate end — we may easily be playing different games.
The idea is, at the end, that this is your life to live on this earth during the brief time you have here. You get to choose the rule book you live by.
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
Memory is an odd thing. What I know is that I tried to get out of taking physics in high school so I ended up in Ms. Bologna’s Astronomy class.
Ms. Bologna was our Academic Advisor. She was obsessed with Einstein and she was whip smart. So…Astronomy was one of those “easy” classes that ended up being life changing for me. We learned about astronomy, certainly. But we learned so much more. The final, as I recall (but this is a bit fuzzy), was the infamous pile of blue books and a single question:
“Decide on your philosophy of life and relate it to everything you have learned this semester.”
So, this morning, I am offering you that opportunity this week. What *is* your philosophy of life? What is your rule book?
When the cards in your hand are good, you have the choice to breathe in and look around you a bit. Take in the situation around the table. Notice whether your neighbour looks like they could use some help. Notice whether the local food bank is in need of a donation. Notice the wider world around you and see where you can step up.
I think that’s where the card-playing metaphor stops working. Because, unless we’re playing some kind of hippie :) communal “everyone’s a winner” game, we don’t usually look around to see who we can help when we’re playing cards (or Catan).
This week, try to rethink/re-calibrate your game of life to be one where, when you have a moment of grace, a good hand, you look around to see who needs a helping hand.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
What rule book have you been using? What is your philosophy of life? Who wins? Who loses? When your neighbour stumbles, do you help? When you stumble, do you expect to be helped?
Can you write your rule book?
6. POD Poem of the day Don Schlitz: The Gambler
“Don Schlitz wrote this song in August 1976 when he was 23 years old. It took two years of shopping the song around Nashville before Bobby Bare recorded it on his album Bare at the urging of Shel Silverstein. Bare's version did not catch on and was never released as a single, so Schlitz recorded it himself, but this version failed to chart higher than No. 65.”
You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table,
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.
7. Podcast (What Shapes Us — Selema Masekela)
8. Video (Shane Koyczan — Instructions for a Bad Day)
9. Hero: Shane Koyczan, Poet
Why? It seems to me that Shane Koyczan, when faced with the question “what are you going to do with your one, wild and precious life?” Answered in a way that only Shane Koyczan could answer. And we are all better for it.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. Good News episode Thursday. Perhaps we will learn how to play cards?