My struggle to understand the world has been with me since childhood. I was known for possessing qualities like being quiet, studious, and sensitive. All of which would possibly make one a good candidate for their narration of the unfolding events in one’s life.
I remember a time in the sixties when I was growing up and one could get a sense of the world around them just by observing the popular culture such as the songs on the radio, the clothes people would wear, themes in television shows and movies, or maybe even what was taught in our schools at the time. Some of the strongest impressions I have are seemingly random moments of my childhood that lead me back to those moments as I reflect upon them so many years ago. For unknown reasons these precise moments I have captured in my memories have no trauma attached or even any kind of elation one would expect to form a long-lasting memory, yet they still bring me back to these moments as if I were living them today. One example is an everyday event such as walking home from my grade school. After years of doing this apparently left me with these memories with no particular reason other than maybe because I walked alone for many years without the sound of music (no Portable Radio’s, no WALKMANS, and no IPODS to distract me or to entertain me) for over 1 mile as I walked home. I also did not have the companionship of others to talk to, so maybe my mind focused on these moments and stored these memories up. These thoughts among others often inhabit my mind, but why?
I also remember times of being a passenger when my mother was driving the car in the rain going to some appointment. Maybe a dentist, or some other function I can’t remember those details, but I do remember the drive vividly going down the streets as the rain poured down, the heater kicking on in the car, and the windshield wipers going back and forth making that squeaky sound as the blades rubbed against the glass. I can even remember the feel of the vinyl seat and wearing no seat-belt as I might sway from time to time on a sharp turn. Other times with a similar scenario included driving with the family as I chose to sing “It’s a small world” under my breath looking out the windshield of our small family car. Was it because nobody else talked to me that left my mind to do what it does, record the empty moments in my experience, and leave me to question why was I here in the first place? I cannot say, but I do know that much of my childhood was up to me on how I created my leisure and filled those empty moments with something to do. Starved for attention, largely I had to create my own activities, fill the emptiness with my own thoughts, reading books, or thinking about the world when I could not find others to play with. But why some of these memories come back as clear as when they happened to me take up residence in my consciousness?
Some of my activities were predetermined as a youth by my father such as playing on baseball teams, or football teams but that was not something I found to be a pleasant experience. It was an expectation that I would have to live up to, it was a function of my fathers’ own will that we play regardless of whether I wanted to play or not, regardless if I actually had an interest to play or wanted to play, it was just an expectation. Organized sports in those days were not benefiting the kids as much as the people running the organizations. It was manipulative, and was dominated by men with presumably unfulfilled dreams and vicariously playing through the kids actually playing the game. Whether this experience was episodic and common for the sixties and seventies in youth sports I can only imagine, but the lessons learned were obviously not those one would like to expect when playing in an organized league. I spent over 14 years of playing in these various leagues, as well as high school inter-mural sports. Funny how I did not form many lasting memories of these experiences. The countless memories of a life lived are comprised through-out my life, and for a time I have gone without asking the right questions.
Do these observations guide me to signposts leading into a direction of self discovery if I read them properly? Were these memories of simply everyday examples of some of the life obstacles that we must face giving us a choice how we must live? The analogies of a game of cards is used worldwide and is indicative of just how much it resembles life’s lessons. There are so many expressions that we commonly use in our everyday conversations that come from the ordinary deck of playing cards. Have you ever heard someone say that they don’t want to “get lost in the shuffle” or ask, “what’s the deal anyway?”
Most of us have heard people say “it’s just not in the cards for me to …” when things didn’t work out the way they planned.
When someone seems to be in charge of a situation, people say that they are “holding all the cards.”
Some days many people feel as though “the cards have been stacked against me” when nothing they try works out or something seems to be blocking their efforts or from achieving their goals.
We have also heard people say “I need to play my cards right to…” when they wanted to take make the most of certain opportunities present in their life.
Then there others who love to tell us that we need to “learn to play the hand we’ve been dealt” when things are not going our way. For some who can do everything and they say that we’re “the Jack of all trades!” or we’re “the Jack of all Spades!”
Many times we see people being secretive about their plans, thoughts, or feelings. We say they are “playing their cards close to their chest” like many card players do.
When people want someone to openly reveal what their plans or intentions are, they usually ask them to “put (or lay) your cards on the table.”
For what ever the reasons I find in living my life and trying to understand it, comprehend it, or subscribe meaning from it, I do believe in the credo that it’s not in the hand you are dealt, but rather in the playing of that hand that makes all the difference in the world.
― Ernest Hemingway
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
― Wayne W. Dyer
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
― Steve Jobs