Horizons, Games, Connections and Enjoyment

People enjoy games. They say that “life is a game.” Who they are isn’t clear, but you know: “They say a lot of things.” On the Internet Einstein is quoted as saying, “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” When he said this isn’t clear. It doesn’t sound like him.

A web site with the tagline, “the best answer to any question,” said: “He (Einstein) wasn’t really big on advertising how he was better than other people,” (see: Quora.com).

The analogy of life as a game, isn’t a stretch. Life has rules (physical and man-made), winners and losers (depending on who you ask) and, like all games, life appears to end. Milton Bradley used to sell a portrait of Abraham Lincoln without a beard. When Lincoln grew a beard, sales dried up.

Such is life.


In 1860 Bradley came up with the first popular board game called the Checkered Game of Life. It had a moral message. According to Wikipedia, the object of the game was to land on “good” spaces, collect points, and reach “Happy Old Age” in the upper corner, opposite “Infancy” where you start.

The game evolved into a track now called The Game of Life. It simulates a person’s travels from school to jobs, to marriage and children. The purpose of the game is to enjoy it.

Such is life.

In 1969, Joe South observed: “Oh the games people play now. Every night and every day now. Never meaning what they say now. Never saying what they mean. And they wile away the hours, in their ivory towers, till they’re covered up with flowers, in the back of a black limousine.” The song came from a 1964 book about the “games” human beings play in interacting with one another.

In 1908 Grantland Rice, a Southern sport journalist, wrote, “For when the One Great Scorer comes; To mark against your name; He writes – not that you won or lost – But how you played the Game” (Alumnus Football). From this we get the saying it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

In the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), Gartland Rice was played by Lane Smith (a Southerner). The legend is based on the Bhagavad Gita which is about a warrior hero named Arjuna (Junah is Matt Damon) who refuses to fight (or play) until the god Bhagavan (Bagger Vance is Will Smith) helps him find his way through awareness of the field.

Bagger says, “You got to look with soft eyes… See the place where the tides and the seasons and the turnin’ of the Earth, all come together… where everything that is becomes one… You got to seek that place with your soul Junuh… Seek it with your hands. Don’t think about it… Feel it… Your hands is wiser than your head ever gonna be…” (see the scene from the movie: "Golf and the Field")

In the story Junah (Matt Damon) failed when he concentrated on himself and worried about failure. He succeeded when he played to enjoy – with awareness from his senses. He succeeded when he forgot about himself and concentrated on doing the work as well as he could and identifying himself with the field. That is when he entered an infinite game. That is simple enjoyment.

Retired professor, James P. Carse, said in Finite and Infinite Games (1986) that there are two kinds of games: 1) a finite game – played for the purpose of winning; and, 2) an infinite game – played for the purpose of continuing to play (p. 3)

In a finite game there is an ending. There are boundaries. Opponents are known by their differences. Winning or losing is thought of in terms of one to the other and it’s imagined in terms of life or death. To play is a choice of spontaneous desire (Carse, SALT talk, 2005).

In an infinite game the rules or boundaries are like a horizon. It moves. Where it is depends on where you are. It’s ill-defined. Nature on this planet is our best example of an infinite game. It plays to continue to play. It plays to keep players in the game.

The rules in an infinite game allow players to continue without a limitation – not even death. It is infinite because limits are taken into play. “Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries” (p. 10, Finite and Infinite Games).

Go into the field. Enjoy the game. As the song says, “It’s all inside you.”

Published by Philosophy of ENJOYMENT

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