I knew an old timer who thought of life as a poker game. His theory was that we are dealt only so many cards in life . . . that we have to discard the old for the new if we hope to improve the hand that we are currently holding. He believed that life was all just a gambling game of chance, predicated on our willingness to release something for something else. In other words: if you don’t like the cards you are holding, you might just as well go ahead and discard. The new cards that are dealt back to you might make for a better hand. And if that isn’t the case? Well, you discard again until you like the hand you are holding. I should probably add that this older fellow led a very uncomplicated life.
Whether you look at life as Poker, Bridge, Backgammon, or Go Fish . . . there is some truth to what this old guy had to say. And before I break out in my karaoke version of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” I just want to say that there is certainly an element of chance in every single moment of my life. Like a deck of cards sitting before me on the poker table, I can actually feel the opportunities that are stacked up in front of me, beckoning and simply asking me to release my tight grip on my current reality and be brave enough to discard.
That’s the best part of taking a chance. Any chance. There is that little thrill that courses through our humanness right in that very second before we know that we have been dealt a bad hand or a good hand. Research has shown that this “thrill” is actually what compulsive gamblers are addicted to. It isn’t Winning that they are hooked on, otherwise they would walk away from the table when they have a nice high stack of chips sitting in front of them . . . it’s actually that feeling of not knowing whether they have won or lost that brings them back to the table.
I guess I have to give it to Kenny Rogers . . . or to whomever wrote the lyrics to that song about knowing when to hold them or when to fold them. It is true. You do have to know when to walk away. Know when to run. There is that expression that nature abhors a vacuum. Experience tells us that this is true: when we create a hole or a gap in our lives, it is likely to fill up with something or someone else — perhaps with alarming similarities, but different nonetheless.
There are those pivotal times in life when we concede to discarding. And receiving. When we [finally!] acknowledge that it’s okay to take a chance. And if there are rules that define winning the game, it’s probably time to have a chat with Mr. Hoyle about writing in some exceptions.
All that life really requires of us is that we go forth and live it. There is not a lot of thinking or haggling involved with it. Or is there? [Shifting back into OverThink drive now . . .] But it sometimes seems that if you overthink or strategize life, you are doomed to passivity. Passivity, like counting cards, has its place but it has no depth, no growth, no change, no underbelly. It just exists with predictable outcomes.
Jokers and trump cards. The King of Hearts and the Queen of Spades. Existence and living. Risk and chance. I don’t know exactly how this all spells out into my strategy for poker playing — not being very artful at this game — but I am thinking it’s time to look at what I have chosen to hold and maybe do a little discard here or there. Change is bound to be good because, if we believe Kenny, every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser. [My apologies if this song gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day! :)]