Checkers was a popular game in my childhood. My opponents varied: brother, sister, father, grandpa, neighbor boy, classmates. (Oddly I don’t remember ever playing a game of checkers with my mother.)
So the spirit of competition was fierce at times, even though in those early years I had no clue there was strategic planning that was supposed to be going on in my head as I awaited my turn. I didn’t like to lose, especially to my dad. He would laugh at my whines. Those whines would escalate to a screaming fit if I thought he let me win. After all, he was Dad and he was the pro. If I beat him, I wanted it to be a legitimate win. I am not sure I ever had one of those with him.
My life parallels a checker game. I have learned a thing or to about strategic planning while waiting for my moves, but I have also realized spontaneous moves can work out, too.
Sometimes, that is. At times it seems another force has control of the board as I watch my moves go without much pattern. Playing along is fine as long as the finish is one I like, and I feel like I have earned or learned from the outcome. If I am playing out a game that has some planning involved, I don’t like it when the end is not as anticipated. Even as my only opponent, I haven’t lost the spirit of competition.
I could go on playing around with this metaphor of life, all precipitated by the appearance of one Ryan Ray in Doniphan as he walks across America. It was magically motivating to hear him share with those of us who were able to meet him last week at the uniquely welcoming Coffee and More at the Bank. Many spontaneous turns from a hodge-podge of players made that gathering happen, each of us in attendance with our own game boards and moves ahead. What wisdom and inspiration from such a young man!
Seemingly random moves continue on my checkerboard. Another favorite locale is Grapes of Held Winery, where discussions of books and life’s synchronicities abound. The weekend following Ryan Ray’s appearance, I was there and learned of a book I had to read – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. So I did. What a marvelous symbolic tale translated from the author’s native Spanish, reminiscent of another metaphorical favorite of mine – the translation of the French tale The Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupery. Both can be read on several planes; both present life lessons to ponder, as did our walking wise man.
Should not be such a surprise that both Coelho and Ray have walked the same famed pilgrimage in Spain, that Ray would mention it in his dialogue with us, that I would then read of that road in Coelho’s bio, tying the two messages so my attention is focused on the checkers I am moving, the adventures ahead, the lessons to learn, the goals to reach. An accidental knee nudging the game board, altering the moves, or an angry hand swiping the board clean to start again afresh might be ahead, as are wins and losses. Fear will not hinder my play, and the combo of strategy and spontaneity keeps me in the game and loving it.