December 18, 2009

Everything I Know About Survival I Learned From Playing Solitaire

Okay, bear with me on this one.

Solitaire — straight up, Klondike-style solitaire — is a game of patience. The player deals out 52 cards in a methodical arrangement on a table, then moves cards from one pile to another in an attempt to break the game in accordance with the rules.

In Klondike, the outcome is usually “oops, play again.” But every now and then you get to clear the table.

So what does a silly card game have to do with survival?

When faced with adversity, I’ve observed that the first reaction of those facing it (myself included, I admit) is to ask the somewhat panicked question, “What are we going to do now? How are we going to get out of this one?” It gets to be “deer-in-the-headlight” time before you know it with questions like that. They look open-ended, but they’re actually closed-minded.

The real question to ask is, “Why don’t we deal the cards again?” There it is. Klondike. Fail to break the game and what do you do about it? Deal another round. In fact, you keep dealing rounds until one of the following happens:

  • You give up, in which case you can never win, or
  • You win after dogged persistence.

See, you can only ever fail if you let fear — a natural reaction when survival threatens you or your family — keep you from dealing another round.

In life that means keeping your eyes open… looking for patterns… seeking the opportunity to take massive useful action in service of others. When an opportunity falls through, you don’t quit, no matter how loudly your head weasels holler. Stand up, shuffle the cards, deal another hand. And another. And ANOTHER.

Yes, I know things can get ugly. Believe me, I’ve been on the verge of being busted penniless more than once. Yet here I am, writing again, hoping to give you just a little inspiration to shuffle that deck, to deal another round, to keep on keeping on no matter who or what tells you to do otherwise.

Come on, people. Let’s play.

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