Thursday, June 15, 2017

In the game

A couple weekends ago, I played an exciting game of Parcheesi with Satish and Danta.  In fact, it was probably the most electrifying game I’ve ever played…bar none.  The boys came over for an afternoon play date and I had the board all set up upon their arrival.  Eagerly munching chips and sipping lemonade, we got down to business, as my fellas are all about healthy competition.  Of course, Satish being a stellar player in most everything, won the first round…but not so easily this time, for over the past six months my sweetheart and I have played often and I’ve been honing my skills.
Just then, Steve stopped over to say hi to the boys and warned them, “You know Kate’s the Queen of Parcheesi.  She beats my butt almost every time.”
“Let’s play again!” they both cheered.
So Steve left to take care of his many responsibilities and the next round commenced.  It was neck and neck for a while until Danta pulled ahead of both Satish and me, quickly getting three of his four pieces to home base.  The last piece was only halfway around the board, but on his next turn, Danta rolled doubles, which allowed him to move fourteen spaces and garner an extra turn.  Then he rolled doubles again, which moved him within a few spaces of winning the game.
“You’d better not roll doubles this time,” Satish chided.  “’Cause the guy nearest home will have to go back to the beginning and you’ll have to start all over again.”
Danta shrugged and rolled the dice…doubles for the third time!
Satish and I looked at each other and shouted, “Awww!”
“Too bad, Danta,” I said, giving him a sad smile.
“Oh, well,” he replied, gloomily moving his piece back to the starting block.
The game got pretty heated after that…but it was all in good fun.  Roll after roll after roll, Satish and I were catching up, but because Danta only had one man to move, he did so at a rapid pace.  Sure enough, five minutes later, he and I were neck and neck once more.  I only needed to roll a four to win the game.  He needed to roll a three.
“Come on,” Danta cheered, blowing on the dice.  And just like that…he rolled a three!
Hurray!” Satish and I shouted, delighted that Danta had stayed in the game so he could bounce back from seemingly bad luck to soundly beat us both.
“I wish Steve were here,” Danta laughed. 
Handing him my phone, I suggested, “Why don’t you call him and tell him that you’re now the King of Parcheesi and I’ve been demoted to Princess.”
Danta laughed and it made me chuckle to hear his side of the conversation as he excitedly shared the details with Steve, who I’m sure was overjoyed to hear that I had lost…at least once.

For the past four years, I’ve been contemplating how to move around the board game of life.  I’ve had several opportunities to teach around the Toledo area, but none of them have been long-term.  After ending a contract with a literary agent in New York City, I’ve been actively seeking a new one, and while a few have shown interest in my work at the onset, every lead fizzed out quickly.  Again and again it seems that after a period of growth and stability, the tables quickly turn and I end up stuck in this place of starting over…professionally, financially, and emotionally.
But not really.
Like Danta, I’ve already worked hard to get the majority of the pieces in my life to find their way home.  I’m at peace with the difficult choices I’ve made that led me into the darkness of the unknown, but ultimately brought me into the light on the other side.  I’ve finally come to understand that while I may not have all the answers, I’m able to live in the mystery with enough experience to know that everything will always be alright.  I always have enough to eat.  I’m always able to maintain my home.  I’m always able to find a way to continue earning a living doing the things that I love.  So even though in the past six weeks I feel like I have to start all over again, in reality, I’m just starting where I left off yesterday. 
While the rules may seem the same, the way I play the game is changing.  I’m more mindful when making commitments.  I’m more open to the suggestions of others, those who’ve been where I am and have successfully recreated their lives.  I’m learning how to relax into the reality that every day is another chance to roll the dice and see where my circumstances might lead me, then have the courage to act when I need to.
And to wait when further action seems futile.

There’s a story about a man who noticed a small opening in a chrysalis that hung from a tree branch.  For hours, he sat and watched a butterfly struggle to force its body through the hole, yet it seemed to make little progress.  In fact, at one point it stopped moving altogether and looked like it was stuck.  So the man thought he would help the butterfly and gently enlarged the opening so it could emerge.  But when it did, its body was swollen and its wings were shriveled.  The man waited for the butterfly to fly away, but it could do nothing but drag around its shriveled wings.  For despite the good intentions of the man, he didn’t realize that the chrysalis had been designed so that the fluid of the butterfly’s body would be pushed into the wings through the struggling process.   Only then, when it was ready would the butterfly finally emerge and be able to take flight.  
We all have struggles with which we wrestle.  We all have challenges and lessons and trials we must endure.  Still, we can choose to take responsibility for our own growth.  We can trust the often difficult process of recreation, knowing that sometimes we will have to start over.   But like a butterfly emerging in its own time, our transformation will be complete…until the next time.
All we need to do is stay in the game and roll the dice with hopeful anticipation.