A Game and A Gift

My first conscious connection with the idea that life is a game came when I was in high school. I was fascinated by a poem about life that included the lines “Life is a game, play it” and “Life is a gift, give it away.” 

The poem was similar to a poem by Mother Theresa, but mine wasn’t that poem. It was similar enough that whoever wrote it might have spun off from the Mother Theresa one, or they might have simply been inspired to write it. I can’t say, as the poem I’m referring to was credited to ‘Anonymous.’

In any case, those two lines struck a chord with me. There are any number of references that could be drawn from them, and I pondered many of those ideas. But there was something else about the combination of those two lines that bothered me in a way that I couldn’t put my finger on. They seemed to convey opposite meanings. A game is something you play by choice, a gift is something that’s given to you. It seemed like a paradox. I couldn’t figure out why these thoughts confused me so much, why my mind insisted on connecting them and what they ultimately meant, but the idea that life is both a game and a gift has stayed with me. It hung around in the dark corners of my mind, nibbled at me from time to time, teased me with the possibility that I might someday come to understand what it meant.

I can’t say that I made a lot of progress toward understanding the connection between those two phrases over time, but in the deep recesses of my mind I must have been working it out. Because one day I happened upon the story that I used to open up this blog, “The Game of Hide and Seek” (reproduced in my first post) from Steve Rother’s book “Re-member: A Handbook for Human Evolution.” 

Inside that simple story was, for me, a true understanding of life as both a game and a gift. I realized, finally and fully, that our lives have meaning and purpose. That our planet has meaning and purpose. That life isn’t some accidental occurrence in some accidental universe. I suddenly fully understood that our universe and our world and indeed humanity, were all purposefully designed, purposefully engaged, purposefully executed.

But I came to understand something even more profound than that. 

Over those many years when I pondered life as a game and a gift, I spent my off hours (no, not all of them! :p) learning about the nature of reality, about the nature of being, about the cosmos, about non-physical entities, about psychology and sociology, and eventually, as the world of science progressed in its own exploration and study, about the spiritual connection between consciousness and quantum physics. I went to seminars, I read books. I learned about thoughts and beliefs, and about the difference between motivation and inspiration.

Being practical and wanting what I learned to mean something, I tried to apply some of what I was learning at work, and so did some of my collegues. Despite our best efforts, not a lot seemed to change. People still treated each other badly, those in authority still tried to impose their wishes - forcefully - on those who weren’t. The unspoken war between the haves and the have-nots persisted. Neither side of any disagreement seemed to want to budge. 

All of this frustrated me. There was information to be had about how to make money while respecting and honoring one another, about how to live harmoniously with each other and the planet while still getting what you want, but I wasn’t seeing a lot of it being put to practical use. Admittedly progress was happening along these lines in some places, I just wasn’t seeing much of it from where I stood. I kept searching.

All throughout this time I was putting some of what I’d learned, or better said, what I came to accept as true, to work in my own life. In doing that I experienced a degree of success. I continued to read, to study, to learn. Life went on. My library grew and grew. The amount of information I pawed through was both staggering and diverse. I tried to apply discernment to everything I read. That is, I didn’t believe things because someone said them, no matter who that someone was. I believed something only if it rang true for me. If something pegged my ‘believability meter’ even a little bit I tried to find out more. If it didn’t, I passed it by. 

Sometimes what didn’t peg my believability meter at one time did peg it later when, by what seemed like sheer accident at the time, I chanced upon the same information later. Other things, things that I believed strongly at some time or another, ended up falling by the wayside. I always thought it was kind of funny, how some ideas that sounded ludicrous to me at one time could all of a sudden, some time later, resound with such truth. And vice versa. It was a process. It still is. It always is.

The Creator and The Created

Eventually I came to understand that not only was our universe and our world purposefully created, it was purposefully created by us. Us - human beings all - had a hand in our own creation. How was that possible? How is that possible?

Religious leaders throughout recorded history have said that there was ‘God’ and there was ‘us’. God clearly was not us. We clearly were not God. God clearly was ‘the creator’ and we clearly were ‘the created.’ A creator cannot also be his, or her, creation. 

Or can (s)he?

That was the key that began turning in the lock that led to what I can only refer to as my current understanding. ‘Current’ meaning that every possibility exists that I might some day understand it differently, but this is how I understand it now. It would be so much easier if I could say, with absolute certainty, that I understand it correctly. But I can’t. No one can. Such understanding is a moving target because that which we are trying to understand is always evolving, always moving.

It seemed like an impossible concept. How could one be both the creator and the thing created? It would be like being a painter, yet also the paining. The painter would have to be able to come alive inside the painting, to experience being not only that which creates the painting, but experience being as the painting. At the same time. Eventually I came to accept that concept not as a concept, but as a truth. I came to accept it as true, as a knowing, because I experienced it. I experienced both creating and living my creation. I experienced me as Me, the eternal, ever evolving, never ending, part of God that each of us—each of us!—is.

Inside that knowing was the key to my mystery of the game and the gift. If we were both the creator and the created, then life could easily be a game and a gift - a game we designed for ourselves to play, and a gift we gave to ourselves, and therefore to all of creation.

Everyone has experienced being both the creator and that which they created, even if they aren’t aware that they have. That’s a whole topic unto itself, and one that I’ll address at some point. For now, if this is a new concept for you, I would ask you to simply sit with the possibility that it might be true. What would life be like if that were true? What would life be like if we - simple human beings that we appear to be - and not some god being outside of ourselves, were the true creators of ourselves, our world, our lives? What would life look like and what the world look like? What could life look like, and what could the world look like?

So all the while I was learning and considering, even though I didn't realize it, my key of understanding was turning in the lock. When I read “The Game of Hide and Seek”, the lock finally opened. Many have had such an experience, and almost invariably we each come to it in different ways, at different times. For me, it was as if I’d found the last piece of a puzzle, the one that makes all the other pieces fall magically into place. I now had a complete picture that I could look at as a whole, rather than looking at each piece individually as I had been before. 

It was a magical realization. I realized, not with my mind but with my heart, not only that life was a game, but that it was a game that we created. That realization brought with it thoughts about what might be possible if everyone either understood that, or at least behaved as if it were true.

Once I had made that leap, that we are playing a game and that we created the game, the next logical question became: if we created earth and ourselves upon it, and created it as a game, and if the definition of a game includes the assumption that it should be fun to play, which I believe it does .. then why isn’t life fun? Why aren’t all the players enjoying living here?

Why does joy, when it does come, seem so fleeting? Why would powerful creators create a game for themselves to play that isn’t fun? Or isn’t fun all the time? If we have this amazing ability (and I believe that we do), why would we create a game, a world, that includes inhumanity and grief and pain and suffering and upset, and even worse, things like terrorism and atrocities? If we are capable of creating an amazing thing like life on planet earth, why would we create it like that? Why indeed.

No comments: