I've got a good friend who loves board games.
He's been playing them his whole life, and he's literally got dozens and dozens stacked tall on shelves and stuffed tight in a small room within his
basement. And there aren't many things he enjoys more than having people over for a long night of fun.
So not long ago I found myself heading over his house for an evening of entertainment with another friend, and together we delved into the
(surprisingly engaging) game Terra Mystica
Needless to say, my board-game loving friend demolished us both. But we all had a great time hanging out making each other laugh.
Then the day after, something happened that got me thinking.
A few times a week I workout with the friend with whom I went there, and at the gym he went on a rant about statistical analysis of various elements
of Terra Mystica. After getting crushed at the game he immediately and instinctively went home and started doing research online, searching for
experienced opinions on the best races, the best build orders, and the win statistics for various strategies.
In short, he had a single bad experience then immediately endeavored towards ensuring he'd have the best chance of winning that game going forward.
He reacted immediately to that unwanted situation, modified his behavior, and armed himself with the knowledge he'd need to have the best chance of
prevailing in the future.
That's hardly an uncommon thing. Everyone wants the best possible chance at victory. And whether the venue is a board game, a video game, a
traditional sport, or anything else, people often grow obsessive about learning and exploiting and mastering the particularities and nuances of their
After losing that one time, my friend instantly devoted himself towards mastering that game. He went home and started investing the time and energy
necessary towards preparing for a pretty uncommon scenario. I mean, we play board games very infrequently. And only a very small percentage of people
play (or have heard of) Terra Mystica.
Yet still he did it. And still he's continuing to do it.
And still, countless others are expending themselves fully towards mastering activities equally niche--expending their lives on mastering the nuances
of particularized games that fractional percentages of the world play.
But how many of us are putting that much time and effort towards dominating the game we all play in common--the lone activity in which we engage
without pause or fail?
How many of us are immediately and consistently putting in the necessary work towards mastering life itself?
Put like that, it's a no-brainer. Because every second of every day we're invested fully and bodily in this game of life--so it stands to reason
that we should be most concerned with understanding every aspect of its rules and planning our strategies fully towards prevailing before death
arrives and unplugs us from this virtual reality program.
The only problem is that very few people can agree on what the success conditions for life entail. Some believe it involves accumulating the most
amount of money, some believe it entails conquering and controlling the most amount of land and resources.
Others still have wilder ideas--more niche ideas like my friend, who put his efforts towards becoming the best Terra Mystica player he could be.
All of these are valid constructs for measuring the victory conditions of life. And the society in which we live often determines unto which supposed
ruleset we adhere.
Those living in capitalistic countries will subscribe unto money as a metric. Those who're born into or devote themselves unto warmongering cultures
will seek towards conquering and controlling as a surrogate for points on the scoreboard of corporeal reality.
But when analyzed under a meta-lens, all but one amongst the vast cornucopia of possible victory conditions for life fail under scrutiny.
Because money you need forgo at the moment of corporeal death. Land and people you can't control from the other world.
All that comes with you from life unto life is your spirit. Therefore the safest and surest investment and most prudent use of your resources in this
reality involves putting much power as possible towards polishing and refining that most intrinsic and essential part of yourself.
If you want the greatest possible return on investment for your efforts, put those efforts towards honing and perfecting the only element of your
being that'll be accompanying you between lives.
Don't fixate on money. Don't grow fascinated with control and conquest.
Put the bulk of your time and energy towards developing and improving yourself.
Devote this life towards learning and perfecting higher virtues like selflessness, compassion, empathy, understanding, and love. Work tirelessly
towards delivering as much joy and happiness and works of benevolent creation into this realm as you can.
Don't stop having hobbies. Don't stop playing games.
But start putting the vast majority of your thoughts towards mastering the only game that matters: Life.
And do it by pursuing the only victory condition that withstands a serious bout of philosophical scrutiny: Perfecting yourself.
You have roughly seventy-five years or so in this body, this life, this existence and world. Then you'll be speeding off again into the other
And there your spirit guides won't tally up your score in dollars. They won't care about how much of this world you brought under your control.
They'll simply look at the only part of you that remains--your spirit--then ascertaining how far it progressed during this incarnation you'll get
praised or consoled as required. And you'll be rewarded in direct proportion unto how much progress you made. Your spirit guides will examine how
well you avoided the incessant distractions within the realm so you could focus on what truly matters: refining the self.
So for sure play games. For sure have hobbies.
But for all those pasttimes in which you engage, focus a little upon the concept of return on investment. Pay attention unto what you're getting back
for your participation. Then devote yourself the bulk of your resources towards those things that provide the greatest dividends going forward.
Master the intricacies of Terra Mystica and you'll benefit roughly once a fortnight during our little parties. Once every few weeks you'll come out
from those gatherings glowing and sparkling with a feeling of pride knowing you prevailed in that game for several brief hours.
But master the intricacies of yourself--put the bulk of your efforts towards winning this game we're all playing in common--and you'll emerge from
this reality with a sense of satisfaction that lasts from now throughout the great forever.
Because it'll be your spirit that's glowing and sparkling bright. And the pride you'll feel will last for much longer.
Then, instead of knowing you did your best towards conquering a board game, you can walk away a real hero knowing you dominated the game of life.