Hitting the Ball

Games played in a competitive manner are often played as a metaphor for how well one handles problems. And how well one handles problems is no different than how one handles the circumstances of his or her life. If you find yourself in a competitive environment, say, a tennis match or a game of chess, ideally your psychic situation should look something like this:

Your opponent hits the ball. The ball bounces into your court. You hit the ball back. No longer is hitting the ball a physical metaphor for striking away your inner problems – insecurities, fears about the future, jealousies, desires to prove yourself. You’re just…hitting the ball. Not out of some transcendent overcoming of all your present and future mental roadblocks. Mental roadblocks – inner problems – these are as necessary to human life as water is to dolphin life. You hit the ball. Your opponent hits the ball back to you. You don’t hit yourself for not hitting the ball “better.” You don’t hit some future worst case scenario. You hit the ball.

What’s helping you to hit the ball is a preparedness for problems, an expectation for the unexpected. An expectation for screwballs and torque and gravity and mistaken judgements and misplaced feet. A preparedness for fuckups and lousy days and sloppy thinking. And a sufficient amount of practice to minimize the possibility of error. But the minimization of error is not enough because error can never be completely avoided. Hence the preparedness, hence the acceptance that eventually you will fuck up and there will be consequences and you might not get things your way.

Sound familiar? That’s life.

So really, the game being played is “how to deal with the unknown.” Adapting to completely novel situations if they arise. Seeing the similarities between one situation and another. Applying what worked before if appropriate. Learning to deal with life – that unfair thing we’re all thrust into without our consent. That’s why we play games.

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