About five years ago, a ten year old child in my class wrote me a letter.
‘Why is my life so rubbish?’ it asked. The writer went on to assure me this was a serious question, to which she really wanted an answer, because she needed to understand.
Let me say for a start that she wasn’t exaggerating. By most people’s standards, that little girl did have some hugely challenging issues in her life and they kept coming, thick and fast. I understood, sympathised and promised I’d get back to her as soon as I’d discovered the answer.
I’m still not sure where the answer came from, when it arrived. All I know is that I took some quiet time to sit down and wait for it, trusting completely that it would come to me, and in a form that a child could understand. My muse just works like that.
Those of you who have read Life: A Player’s Guide will recognise this explanation as the analogy at the beginning of Part 2. For those who haven’t, it goes something like this:
Imagine that you were spending a whole day at a theme park. You could go on as many rides as you liked. As you entered the park, you noticed a kiddie roundabout playing jingly music and revolving very slowly and safely. Further on, there were all manner of white-knuckle rides, promising to throw you around, drop you from great heights, scare you witless, soak you to the skin and turn you upside down at considerable speed.
I asked the little girl what she would choose to do.
Her eyes shone. “I’d want to try out all the scariest rides I could find!” she exclaimed.
“Not the kiddie roundabout, then?”
Her lip curled derisively. “Wouldn’t bother with that!”
Next I asked her to imagine how her greater self had felt when planning her present lifetime – before she was born. For that Self, I explained, the game of life is like a trip to the theme park. Would it choose a lifetime of simply chugging around the kiddie roundabout in a safe, unthreatening existence, or would it be looking for all the wildest, most uncomfortable rides – ones that would test it to the limits, leave it shaking and trembling, allowing it to experience the ultimate in thrills and gain all manner of new experiences?
She nodded, slowly, understanding why some multi-dimensional part of herself had elected to expose her to all those white-knuckle experiences. They don’t feel too great while we’re in the middle of them, but ultimately, we’re going to stagger away, feeling sick and dizzy, perhaps, but incredibly proud of ourselves for getting through it.
It really does get easier if we can remember that life’s a game.