Life and Games

It’s incredible what enters our minds when we least expect memories to re-enter our brains. Thirty years ago, I was twenty-one and thought I knew better than my folks. I would race friends in my Saturn, and even though it wouldn’t go as fast as a sports car, I made sure that I could handle the roads with a fierceness of a competitor. I drove a manual transmission and detested automatics. I loved the feeling that the car gave me as it hummed beneath my body. The moment my foot hit the accelerator, I was ready to take on the world. It wasn’t until a car accident happened that my world crumbled. The confidence I wore shattered along with the windshield and the framing of the car that cradled my body.

There’s something about being in control of an engine that makes us feel powerful. Some people may compare it to a game of chess because chess is full of powered moves. It takes strategy to outwit your opponent. Vehicles have the same ability to make people feel as if they are pawns, queens, and bishops on the board. With a car, you see the road before you mapped out a little more graphically, but you see everything if you are willing to use your mind on the board. Every time I shifted gears in the car, I could feel the vehicle willing me to do its work. I knew from the sound of the engine what the car needed. I didn’t understand all the car’s terminology, but I knew from the sounds of originating problems and how severe the car was with its care. I know little about chess, but it’s a game that I need to learn because, just like the car, life is full of chess moves.

You see, I use the circumstance of how driving that car made me feel. I can tell you every curve on the road that I made the car hug and cuddle. I can recall every tidbit of the various sounds the car made, but if you ask me to apply what I did with the car to life, I will look at you with a blank stare.

Everything we do in life is strategic. We don’t even recognize the strategies we utilize frequently. It’s become the norm to get our morning routines down pat, and we don’t always shuffle our mornings around. Most people like consistency and don’t love change even when those changes occur.

If you work in an office setting, have you noticed how the people around you change frequently? Your company may have high turnovers or offer lots of cross-training. A lot of companies say that they want to cross-train employees and rarely follow through. These businesses are doing what they can to be in a race. Everyone wants to be the best. We push ourselves when we want something so badly that we won’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of our success. That’s where being intentional about the moves we make in life comes in. We offer many skills and talents to outside resources. When people need our services, we contract those services to meet our needs.

As I’ve gotten older, my love of racing has diminished. The wreck that almost killed me shook me to my core. It intimidated me to get behind the wheel of a car. I realized in a few seconds that I could have died. It took me a while to want to race again. Even today, I hesitate when making left turns. My poker face doesn’t exist when it comes to driving powerful vehicles. When a friend of mine offered to let me drive his Porsche one afternoon, it killed me to say no. If I couldn’t handle a Saturn at 110mp, there was no way in hell I could drive a car of that magnitude.

Don’t get me wrong. I was grateful for the opportunity, and eventually, he talked me into riding with him for a bit. He knew that I had been in a wreck, and he knew the damage it did to me, but he wanted me to face my fear. At that moment, I wasn’t ready to face it head-on. Had I known it would be the last time I saw my friend when he was still alive, I probably would have sucked it up and found a way to deal with my inhibitions. I’ll never know because I let fear win that round. Brian was a great friend for trying to get me out of my comfort zone. I use his memories to remind me that fear moves on a board that needs knocking out of the way.

When I worked in healthcare, two different women hated me with a passion. They did everything they could to get me fired from the office. Both women were master manipulators. Co-workers spread rumors spread about me at both facilities that I never knew until years after forcing me out of the facilities. One of the women hated me because I had more education and training than she did for her position. She had a rapport with the physicians in the office that I couldn’t touch. When someone hates you so much that you can’t do anything right, then you know you need to get out of that toxicity. Eventually, both women got the entire office to turn on me. I don’t care what anyone says; doctors’ offices may be great when you are a patient, but the staff can be very cliquish and if you don’t fall in the favored category, be aware that knocking you out of employment with them will become a priority. I worked in healthcare for a decade, and after two offices pushed me aside, I recognized I didn’t belong.

In my twenties and thirties, I didn’t like to fight. I was essentially a doormat and allowed myself to be a pawn. As I’ve aged, I’ve found my voice and am in more control of myself. My confidence has grown, my ambitions sharpened, and my naivety is less prevalent. I’ve learned that not everyone is your friend and that you don’t have to let the actions of others dictate your happiness. You have to be willing to fight for what you want and not succumb to the drama that others love to incite.

As you go through the day, I hope two things for you. The first is that I hope people don’t try to screw you over and make you feel less than you’re worth. If they do, learn that it’s their issue and not yours. You have the power to make changes in your life, and you can choose to run the board the way you want. Life may not be a game, but it is for a lot of people. For some reason, many people compete for 24/7 and don’t recognize the trauma they cause themselves along the way. The second reason is that you light the world with your attitudes, demeanor, how you handle issues, and how you treat others. When you are in control, you become a leader. Power is something each of us has. Our destinies are often mapped out, just like chess moves. When we take the time to plan, implement strategies, and execute those moves, we control our actions. Sometimes we influence the actions of others. The important thing is to remember that we all make moves and impressions on others, just like the board games we play. Today, don’t let the actions of others make you feel that you have lost anything. If anything, you’ve gained knowledge, wisdom, and tolerance for those who try to put you down. Have a great day, everyone.

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