How to win in the game of life

“I don’t remember where I was when I realized life was a game. The more seriously I took things, the harder the rules became.”
–lyrics from “À Tout le Monde” by Megadeth.

game-lifeLife isn’t fair.  As my own means of coping (and flourishing) in this absurd world we live in, I have began, in recent years, to think of life as a game. If you accept my premise that life is a game, then like any other game, there must be ways of “winning.”  There must be objectives we are pursuing.

So what is the objective of life?

Far be it for me to answer that classic existential question in a single blog post.  I have thought on this question like so many others before me have, and so many people after me will.  Deeper thinkers than this squirrel have meditated on the subject of existentialism and have reached their own (sometimes) profound conclusions.  I think it is safe to assume that the answer is different for each person:

  • To leave the world a better place than you found it.
  • To be successful (however “success” may be defined for you–happiness, wealth, or maybe wisdom).
  • To continue your genetic lineage (through procreation).

What do each of these answers have in common?

It is to create a legacy.

We as mortal beings have a finite amount of time to leave our marks on this planet.  An infinitesimal amount of time in fact.  We are hardly more than miniscule blips in history.  Most humans will never be remembered when their time on this planet comes to an end.  That is sobering, isn’t it?

In our quest to give meaning to our lives–to be more than a forgotten blip in time–we each in our own way strive to create something which lasts beyond our own corporeal bodies.  We want to create an impression on the world, however small it might be.  To create a legacy which makes our lives have meaning beyond the all-too-brief time we are alive.

So it is that many of us are driven to have children, because our offspring keep our genetic material in circulation, and they keep the memory of our short existence around, hopefully for generations after we are long gone.

Those individuals who have the tenacity, skills, and luck to build wealth during their lifetime may recognize that they can “buy” a legacy through philanthropy:  foundations, endowments, and scholarships.  Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, JP Morgan, and other industrialists learned this and their names live on in part because of the investments into legacy projects which they made in their golden years.  In more modern times, we see this in action with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Jimmy Carter Center, and Oprah’s Angel Network.

My wife and I have chosen not to have children.  We are definitely not wealthy.  Fortunately, we do have some creative talent, so we are developing our writing skills with the goal of publishing our work.  With persistence and some luck, we hope to create our legacy by helping others and by leaving our mark with the written word.

It’s a tough game we play, this game of life.  We have a limited amount of time before the clock stops, so we had best work hard if we want to win!

Tell me, Dear Reader:  how will you create your legacy?  Share your ideas by posting a comment below.

About Frank Hurt

A woman once told him, "Frank when you grow up you're going to be brilliant and handsome."

It turns out Frank's mother is pretty good at predicting the future. Almost as good as Frank is at writing his own bio in third-person perspective.

Comments

  1. I am one of the wealthiest people in the world. You will not, however, find my name listed next to the Gates, Buffets, or Oprahs of the world. My wealth, like theirs, is also used to make the world a better place. Every morning from August to June I have the privilege of going to to a job I love. While I do have genetic children, I am also a parent of nearly 100 students who pass through the doors of my classroom. I know I can leave the world a better place through my own volition, but I can also leave the future a better place through my influence on each mind and body of each student in my care. My wealth comes from the overwhelming satisfaction and joy I feel at living every day knowing I make a difference. My successes come not from what I can do, but from what I know others are able to do in spite of me. Of course, I owe everything I am and will be to God– through Him I live a legacy much greater than anything I could ever imagine.

    • Fantastic perspective! The influence you have on hungry, young minds cannot be overstated.

      I especially like this:

      “I know I can leave the world a better place through my own volition, but I can also leave the future a better place through my influence on each mind and body of each student in my care.”

      Thanks for the inspiring comment, Mrs. H.

      • Sheila Hlibichuk says:

        Thanks, Frank. You and your blog have me thinking that it’s time for me to try my hand at blogging. It’s a scary prospect for me.

        • You absolutely should! RaeLea and I kicked the idea around for months before pulling the trigger. If you need any help in getting started, you know where to find me. 🙂

        • I have been tickling my brain thinking of how incredible your blog could be.

          Forgive me, but I have even gone as far as getting your students involved and wondered how many would thrive writing imaginative entries and being engaged in introspective debates.

          Such amazing possibilities.

  2. I cannot begin to suppose that I can make as intelligent a comment as Mrs. H. However,
    I would like to state that I have begun to create my legacy, not only through the genetic material that I have put into circulation, but also through the beliefs and ethics that I have hopefully instilled into the people bearing my genetic material. And through how those beliefs have evolved through each of these individual minds. I would not care if anyone remembered who I “was” when I am gone from earth, so much as how they were affected when they encountered me or any of my offspring, and I only hope that they would feel genuine love and compassion from those encounters.

    • Interesting, so it sounds like your interpretation of “legacy impact” is even more indirect, yet still centered on emotional responses.

      I appreciate the response, Mom!

    • Sheila Hlibichuk says:

      You are a woman with wisdom beyond her years. Your legacy will, indeed, live on and on and on….

    • Mom H. – The emotional critter that I am found myself nodding with your comment “I only hope that they would feel genuine love and compassion from those encounters.” . Thank you.

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