I was talking to my friend, Trish, the other day, and she spoke of the catch-up she’d had with an elder woman in her early 90’s with whom she’d also become friends. Trish much admires this elder lady, and describes her as having a life “well lived”. I was envious, to say the least. Not of Trish – at least not on this occasion – but of having a life well lived. If I was to describe my life, I would say it was a mixture of messiness and missed opportunities, with a smattering of luck and good fortune thrown in here and there due to having some good habits and values.
To digress a little, and tell a little more about my friend, Trish – a while ago, she started a yarn-crafts group and called it Yarnteeze¹. The name is a combination of the play on the word ‘Aunties’, as well as talking (i.e. having a ‘yarn’) and casually passing on information and skills whilst crafting, and that they use yarn for their craft. My friend has Maori heritage, and like many non-Euro cultures, the term ‘Auntie’ – being any older woman – is a form of respectful address. This group was designed to have a multifunction purpose – to get women together who had yarn-craft skills and to create items for charity; to create a social network, shared purpose and camaraderie; help maintain good mental health for women; to engage women’s knowledge, and create get-togethers for younger women (and men) to learn yarn-craft skills from the Aunties. There’s a wide range of ages in the group – from 40 to 92 years old, which gives it a wonderful plethora of life-experience. It’s small, but a resounding success, and Trish has been awarded a well-deserved community acknowledgement for it.
When I told Trish that I was jealous of her friend having a life well lived, because I didn’t think mine was, she said that it’s never too late to have a life well lived. Which was good in one way, and a nuisance in another, because now I know I don’t have an excuse to opt out. Damn her wisdom!
Before this conversation, I had been talking about China’s political shenanigans with someone else. I acknowledge that all countries have political shenanigans, however, China was the country of subject on this occasion. I mentioned how their political system gives them the advantage of being able to play a really long game. The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t have to worry about only having three or four years in office before the next election might oust them, and then the next party in power overturning the initiatives they put in place. Unless something cataclysmic happens in China to de-throne the communist party, they can put plans in place for a hundred years down the road without fear of having them quashed by the next party in power.
It got me thinking. Thinking about what it means to play the long game, instead of always letting the wind take me where it blows. I have played the long game in some ways, because I’ve always been a saver of money. I’ve always known that I’ll need it for something somewhere down the track, so I’ve saved for that eventuality. But I hit a wall when I try and think of the big picture of my life, and playing the long game to bring it into the material world. I don’t expect things to turn out exactly as we picture them, because they seldom do, but just having some broad strokes would be kinda good.
As I have become older, and care less about being a flawed human being and cut myself more slack, I’m less invested in success and more invested in just doing. Not that I don’t enjoy success, but that’s not the only purpose for any project anymore. It takes much of the stress out of getting-it-right, and for me, I reckon that the fear of not getting-it-right held me back from playing the long game. I.e. if I didn’t have a plan, I couldn’t fail if it didn’t come to fruition. Sometimes I hate it when I crack my ‘safe’ like that, because then I can’t un-see what I’ve seen.
It doesn’t mean this flash of enlightenment will make me change my wicked ways RIGHT NOW. Although changes can sometimes be swift, they’re often much more mundane than that, but it’s out there in my world now whether I like it or not. Seeing as the world has multiple layers to it, and two or more things can be true at the same time even if they seem to oppose each other, I expect it will have an influence. So whilst I need to live now, I can also play the long game, and can succeed and fail at the same time. And whether I have a short time or a long time left in this world doesn’t matter, because if I’m still here and functioning, I’ve still got skin in the game.