April 16 2015     

The Game That Matters

by archywillhe


I’m not going to lie. I was slightly crestfallen when I learnt that I didn’t make it to the final round in my Thiel Fellowship application. I was invited to the summit though (which requires one to purchase an expensive ticket: simply not something I would do). Damn. I shouldn’t have had any expectation when applying for the fellowship at the first place, let along feeling the slightest dejection upon knowing the result. I got so involved in this game of application that only after it was over did I realize that it did not matter at all.

There is only one game in life that actually matters, and that is life itself.

The game of socializing, the game of corporate-ladder climbing, the game of winning someone’s heart … these games become so trivial in the face of it, for each is contained within it. It is the superset of everything we had experienced, are experiencing, and will experience during the time of our existence. What came before and comes after it are out of its context. Certainly, they instigate a continuum of interesting thoughts to be pondered upon, but let’s not forget that whatever new light any musing would shine into the matter of “before and afterlife” only reflects the very nature of the mental framework under which we, as members of homo sapiens, compose our thoughts. We shall thus keep in mind that the primary focus in life ought to be life per se, while we are in it.

To properly play the game of life, one is advised to define goals to accomplish in this game. They don’t have to be well-defined. A goal can be as indefinite and meta as figuring out what goals are to be defined. One is then recommended to allow these goals to evolve over time. Some people may arrive at the conclusion that they should live in conformity with some set of doctrines, often promulgated by a religious body, from which some goals of life can be derived. Some people may conclude that there exists no actual goal or purpose in life, in which case they either play the game of life purposelessly, or come up with goals/purposes themselves.

All these years I have been searching for a set of goals in the game of life. I, standing on the shoulders of the giants, have recently found somewhat a set of goals worthy of pursuing. Live a life worth living: I shall stop indulging in other games, and dedicate my life to these goals. Only then would I stand some chance of realizing them. That said, I would keep human interaction to a minimum and conceive no unnecessary mental construct, when possible. Disenthrall the mind from everything else, and allocate all that the mind has solely to these goals.

Perhaps it is such dedication that enables one to, with little effort, achieve the ultimate state of mind often referred to as flow, an idea formulated by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi who is best known for his years of research and writing on the topic.

“… flow – the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” - Csikzentmihalyi, 1991

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