Life lesson #1 If STAYING AHEAD OF THE GAME is the object, you need to first ask yourself: “What game will I be playing?”. When headed to the park expecting to play checkers, it’s really cool being prepared with two different colored circle pieces and an 8×8 board. It isn’t cool finding out you actually needed hip streamers, an oblong inflated ball, an old college Greek t-shirt, and smelly sneakers to play flag football in the park. When you show up with a little bag of checker chips, SPF-100, an inflatable bench seat, and picnic basket, you’ll soon be bored. Sitting beside a checkered board on the sidelines, your mildly irritated friends consider the formerly innocent moves of “king me” and “double jump” as a possible forms of punishment. You begin to see the memo you missed – clearly written in the dust left behind from the wind storm of your regret.
Life lesson #2 If KEEPING YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME is the object, you need to first ask yourself: “Am I paying attention to the players around me?” Let’s assume you are forgiven and invited to participate. Big assumption, but we’ll go with it. The very friends you had fruity cocktails and vodka shots with the night before, now take every opportunity to surround your hesitant soul with with one goal in mind: Embarass the over-lathered lotioned checker chip bagger. Some friends call this forgiveness at all costs and you wear a multi-colored target on your back as the chosen one. Chosen to participate in a game not of your choosing.
Life lesson #3 If IT’S ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL SOMEONE GETS HURT, you need to first ask yourself, “Is this worth it?” Is the grass crunching under everyone’s feet and stale air whistling past your ears worth the jeers, fears, tears, and time with your peers? Certainly must be because you are still in the game, right?. Play’ahs smile and wink ever so slightly when they whisk by you … still consumed by your checkered past. The same counter belly-rubbers who bent over a smokey bar table the prior evening and said, “Let’s meet tomorrow and play a game!”. They who should have wiped the glasses of conversation a bit clearer when describing the game. A game they, themselves, are certain to be flagged – more than you – for their pregame ambiguity and in-game dust ups. On the field of play, hurts happens – it is an until, not an if. So you’re really in a defensive position at the mercy of well-mean(ing) compatriots who knew better, but chose to play by a different cruel book. Sometimes it’s not the game, it’s the players.
Life lesson #4 If AT THIS STAGE OF THE GAME, you need to first ask yourself, “Is this where I want to be right now?”, either the game or the players need a second look – possibly a third. Running through the options in your head is the best option coming out of the huddle-puddle these mud ruckers put you in. What looks like an innocent game of flag pulling has become the biggest contest of run-around with you at the center of it all. As the non- ball bearing appeaser – an uncompensated, unrecruited position to boot – you will spend valuable time defending the indefensible friends living on their narrow field who will never see your extraordinary field of vision.
Life lesson #5 If AT THE END OF THE GAME, you need to first ask yourself, “Was it worth it?”, and the answer is “no”, return to the sidelines. Pick up your wonderful bag of checker-chips, head back to the bar from where it all began, and sit beside players of life who recognize your vision of an inflatable bench seat for two or more … where real friends sit together…
…. on the sidelines watching the game of life play out while engaging each other in a fair, respectable game of checkers. One expecting and knowing the game of the other. All conscious of one another. No one getting hurt.
Flag football people, life lessons #1-4 … the unfortunate expectations we place on friends who aren’t genuine friends; Co-workers who aren’t real co-workers. Family members who aren’t honest family members. They are, but aren’t in the truest sense. In their minds, it is Fair Game to play with us … our minds and emotions. We allow the game assuming our best interests are in play, but they aren’t. This is why we show up on the sidelines unprepared, … and play anyway. Trust.
There is hope as mentioned. Belly up to a latte, deal yourself in a card game, spin a stick in almost dry dirt …. whatever. Someone will nudge up beside you with an open arm and become a teammate for life. Find them. You need them to help carry your extra large bag of checker chips when a crowd of extra-special friends meet at the park to celebrate your extraordinary field of vision.