I like playing games when I take the bus, especially soccer games.

I’ve gone through all the soccer games in existence already, though, so I haven’t had a decent game to play for some time. Then I discovered a new game on Google Play where you play against all sorts of gamers around the world. “That’s it,” I said to myself. “Now I can play this on the bus or wherever.”

This wasn’t the case at all unfortunately. I paid to buy tons of stuff from the store to get a better team. The games I used to have fun playing turned into a race to win stuff after a while. After completing the first arenas and getting to around level six, I wasn’t able to play a match. Just playing one game could earn me a lot of money, or it could cost me a ton. This began to create huge stress for me, because once I spent all my in-game money, I had to purchase more with real money if I wanted to play. Actually, I could play but not in the higher-level arenas. I couldn’t concentrate on the game anymore, and the games just flew by…

In short, a game I began playing for pleasure turned into a nightmare because of the stress of losing.

At that point, I stopped and questioned my intentions…

What was my intention in the beginning? It was to have fun playing a game, to entertain myself as I travelled by bus.

But what happened, and how did my intention get distorted? The system and struggle in the game became demanding. I couldn’t get to the higher ranks if I didn’t win. If my team was not better, my chances of winning were slim.

I then realized the company behind this game had set up a system called momentum. You couldn’t win all your games no matter how hard you tried. I checked the statistics of other players, and everyone’s winning and losing streaks were almost identical. No one, not even the best players, could carry their team to the top. This of course helps the company to make more money, but it also preserves the balance in the game.

After I figured this out, I continued to question my intention. After a while, my attitude inevitably drifted toward the game we call “life.” What was my aim when I originally started playing the game of life, and when did the naivety of that intention become distorted, such that now my inner contemplation reached a point where I cannot play without fear of losing?

Yes, I was avoiding playing many of the mini-games within the game, because I was afraid of losing. What if I lost the things I had and got to a point where I could not play at all anymore?

Of course, there was the one-time gamer staring back at me as well. If you remember the generation that spent time in the video arcades back in the day, you’ll know this person very well. You are enjoying a video game, but a skinny teen stands next to you and says, “Hey, would you like me to get you through it?” This teen has spent so much time in the arcade that he knows all the tricks in the game and can play it much better than you do. If you try to play a karate game, he puts a coin in without even asking and becomes your rival. And then he beats you easily. There are other teens behind you watching, and they also stress you out. They stare at you as if to say, “Is that the best you can do?” I stopped going to video arcades because of those teens and got a computer I could comfortably play at home all by myself.

Well, as you can see, this also says a lot about my attitude toward life as well. Back then, I couldn’t just say, “Screw you! How dare you join my game without asking!” I couldn’t just say I wanted to play alone. They were invading my space, and I felt inadequate. The solution to this was to shut myself inside and create my own space, but this made me avoid the outside world. My teenage years were all about escaping and being alone.

Now I am 41, and that teenager is still living in there somewhere. Of course, he can stay there, but I can’t live the age of 41 with the manners of a 14-year-old child. You can’t play the game by running away from it, especially in an arena that you so eagerly jumped in at the beginning.

I know that I am a great player, not just because I know how to win but also because I learned to enjoy the game. I win or I loose, but above all I play. That is how I serve, by being in the game and doing the best I can.

For example, I love soccer, including real matches, but I don’t run that fast or have a good technique. I always enjoyed being the goalkeeper, though, and I’ve always focused fully on it rather than try to score a goal. My enthusiasm was not about scoring goals but rather saving them, because that’s what I do best. Soccer players know that the goalkeeper adds to the pleasure of the game. If there are good goalkeepers on both teams, you get more fun out of the game. If there were no goalkeepers, the players would just be taking turns to shoot at open goals, ruining the pleasure for everyone. When there are players who devote themselves to goalkeeping, though, a soccer match gets real. I do not want to do something out of my skillset, so the best thing I can do is be a goalkeeper, and I did that. This is how I add more pleasure to the game for everyone else. This is my contribution to the whole. After a while, I became essential, because a good goalkeeper is hard to find. By the way, I was not reluctant when I discovered this fact. I went whenever I was invited, and I enjoyed it while increasing everyone else’s pleasure, too.

This is actually the worth of my being at soccer matches for me, being a good goalkeeper, saving goals, and increasing everyone else’s level of joy.

Now at 41, I ask myself, what is the worth of my existence in this game of life? I first thought I didn’t know, but then I noticed what a great contribution I have made to my brothers’ and sisters’ lives. As I have played the game, I have enjoyed it, too. This was no sacrifice, and because I was enjoying the game, I contributed more.

As I was trying to be the best, though, I had sabotaged my own intention, because I had split the whole and tried to get ahead of others. I was trying to be number one, so I grew distant from myself. I believed that this was the only way to become wanted and loved. Yet was I not  wanted already, having been born into this life? From the many millions of sperm, the egg did not simply choose the fastest. It invited in the one it found most appropriate for itself. Didn’t that sperm and that egg actually choose each other?

At that point, I am the one who chose, and I am the one who is chosen. Who was I racing against? Even if there were a “best,” would it not add more to my game if I did my “best” rather than try to be the “best”? I would have stopped agonizing over not being the best, and I would’ve discovered my own potential while doing the best I could. I would be able to expand everything I do.

This was the choice for me: Being number one or being one with the whole. To be number one, there needs to be others who I can beat, but this state separates me and dismantles me. I chose this several times in the past, but it did not bring the happiness I was seeking. When I’m one with the whole, though, I present the best I can, and this affects the whole. I also saw that others who make this choice affect me, too. We grow together, and this is a greater effect than I could ever create by myself.

At this point, I was afraid of becoming like everyone else, worthless and meaningless, because I’ve always been manipulated by such messages: “You are unworthy, but if you want to be worth something, buy our product!”
I sought my own worth in possessions, whether it be the most beautiful lover, the best computer, the best car, the best this, the best that, and so on, yet I was already valuable with my existence, as was everyone else. The only problem was that nobody was aware of the value of their own existence. Nobody was aware of how they contributed to the whole. They didn’t even know they were contributing to the whole merely by breathing. This value was always somewhere remote and never in the here and now.

But now I know that I have a great value on my own, just with my own existence. Just like all my brothers and sisters, who are reading this right now, we each have a different skill and value that we can contribute to the whole. Since we are not aware of it, we keep constantly running around and struggling. I began this process as the chosen one at the very beginning, and even just that is so precious!

Look how far I have come from a smartphone game. My attitude there pushed me to contemplate my life, and finally, once I was out of a cycle of winning and losing, I could actually just take my phone and enjoy the game. Who cares whether I win or lose? If this game gets to a point where I cannot play any longer because of the system, I’ll just download another game. There are so many games in the Android store. If something does not suit my intentions, what am I doing with that game anyway?

It’s the same with the game of life. There are so many games within it set up by a variety of consciousnesses. My intention is to play and to enjoy them, but if a setup does not suit my intention, I will not invest further time or energy in it. I will not push myself if that space is not for me and if others there do not have similar intentions to me. I will instead move on to a space that better suits my intention, carrying my love for everything in my heart. This will be how I contribute to the whole, even in the spaces that do not really suit me, and I will remind myself and others of our worth.

May your games be joyful.