The Game of Life is a rainy day family favorite as we gather around the dining room table, choose the vehicles we will travel around in, and make major life decisions based on the spin of a wheel and the luck of the draw.
Everyone around me screamed out in laughter, as I carefully secured three pegs — one pink and two blue — into my little convertible car and waited for my next move. I wasn’t sure if was ready for three kids, especially since I just got married three spins ago and was recently fired from my job. I knew I had to make it work, though, because that’s how we play the game.
The Game of Life is a rainy day family favorite as we gather around the dining room table, choose the vehicles we will travel around in, and make major life decisions based on the spin of a wheel and the luck of the draw. Since I usually start out a board game knowing I will lose, I always enjoy sitting back and watching my family compete for the finish line.
I am amazed at just how much our game play reflects our real life demeanors. Rainbows of flimsy paper money sat before each player; my husband and oldest son had color coded piles sorted by currency and a ledger to record purchases, while the two other players (my youngest son and me) were surrounded by a mess of scattered bills — uncounted and always assuming there is more than there actually is.
My husband carefully presided over each purchase, especially when house hunting, and this time ended up buying the studio apartment for $100k which left a nice nest egg for his retirement. I bought the family house (walk-in closets and double sinks) for $300K, and ended up house poor and living paycheck to paycheck until my pet goat won a blue ribbon and the bank payed me $40,000.
I noticed, though, that no matter how much planning went into our strategies, we each found ourselves enduring unexpected twists and turns on whatever path we were on. Some roads we chose to go down and others were a result of the random cards we drew.
At the very beginning we were forced to choose between a college education and a fast track to career. I graduated as a secret agent for $100K per year, which I thought was a smart match based on my Facebook stalking abilities. My husband, on the other hand, decided to go straight for the fast track and became a chef for $50K. We figured my student loan payment probably evened our salaries out.
The Game of Life requires a lot of risk taking.
With every move we made, we risked losing everything. Sometimes, we drew the exact cards we wanted and sometimes we drew some really bad ones. One of us got to sail around the world, while another lost his entire life savings when he started a snail farm and I told him no starting farms in the house. My husband hit it big after he invented a dancing robot, and I got fired for sneaking my cat into work with me — although I stand by my statement that it just climbed into my purse when I wasn’t looking.
Each player’s experience was quite different even though our destination was the same. Some of us were rich and some were poor; some of us didn’t have children, but I ended up with six after I got triplets twice. Each card we drew took us forward or caused us to fall behind, but we didn’t know until we had the courage to draw it.
No matter our circumstances, we all experienced hardships and challenges as we went, but we just kept playing the game. We kept going because we knew it wasn’t about who got the finish line first, but the moments along the way that make the game worth playing. As our cars filled with spouses and kids (I cried when I saw my first grandchild peg) we found ourselves cheering each other on as we went, and suddenly the journey became less about winning and more about learning, experiencing, and supporting.
Even, though some people scoffed at my performance when I had to get a night job as a runway fashion model—but hey, the triplets have to get through college somehow.
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.