Life is Like a Game of RummiKub: You Stay in the Game, No Matter What.
I played Rummikub the other day with my kids.
As we chose our tiles, I suddenly heard reactions of joy and cries of disappointment.
“Yes!” one child boasted. ”I got great tiles!”
”Umph!” sighed another. “This isn’t fair! I got the worst tiles in the world! I’m gonna lose!”
I ignored their comments and allowed the game to begin.
Let it go, I said to myself.
And then ironically, as we began to play, I found myself getting similarly attached to the temporary moments of happiness and frustration that come before each move.
Happy when I had the opportunity to place a tile down.
Frustrated when I couldn’t.
But it was just a game, of course.
And I didn’t take it seriously knowing that the greatest joy of playing games with my children is in simply spending time with them, interacting with them, laughing with them, watching them grow and learn, and creating memories.
That’s the important thing.
But, in the midst of the RummiKub game, something else suddenly dawned on me.
Choosing to stay in the game is just as important as choosing to play the game in the first place.
You see, in other family games we play, the boards don’t change too dramatically with any one move. So, there’s a sense of security and anticipation of what may come next. If you know you’re going to lose, you can often times see it coming.
But, in RummiKub, the whole playing board can turn itself on its head, right in front of your eyes, with just one move.
Your opponent can instantly and completely dismantle the board and create an entirely fresh and new one — one that is not only unfamiliar to you, but one you can’t even work with.
Just like that.
In the blink of an eye, reality, as you knew it, disappears.
And suddenly, there’s a new reality.
Just like in life.
We live our lives assuming that our “boards” are going to stay more or less the same forever. And they usually do, for the most part. Until boom, one day, it doesn’t.
And, just like in RummiKub, you’re never really prepared for it.
Not that you can really predict these things anyway, nor do you even want to live your life anticipating the worst or living in anxiety and fear.
Like when you become unanticipatedly sick.
But, just like in RummiKub, all you can do — even if you don’t like the way the board suddenly looks — is play your best tile and hang in there, until the board shifts again.
Which it will.
You choose to adjust to that new reality and put your best foot forward.
Because whatever tiles are in front of you, are the only tiles you’ve got to work with.
In RummiKub, you stay in the game, no matter what.
(At least that’s what I teach my kids.)
No matter how rough it gets, no matter if you are sure you are going to lose, no matter if you have no chance to win at all.
You stay in the game.
Not only for your sake, but for those you committed to when you chose to play the game in the first place.
Just like in life.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on October 31, 2016.