I recently played a board game that I found to be analogous to life. Apples to Apples isn’t a game of strategy, but it is more a game of interpretation. Each player is dealt seven randomly selected cards and then plays one, a noun, for an adjective card the round’s judge chooses. According to the game’s rules, if the judge picks your card as his favorite interpretation out of all the cards played, regardless of his reasoning, you win that round. At some point in the game, everyone gets a chance to be the judge, and each time the cards are played, someone gets ahead. That sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?
The fun of the game is in seeing how people interpret the nouns that are played for the adjectives the judge chooses. Sometimes the cards played are serious, far-fetched or peculiar, but never right or wrong. For example: “teachers,” “duct tape” or “my bank account” for hardworking. The winner of the round is subjectively determined by the judge as the best match.
In life, we are often judged by cards we play based on the hand available to us at the time. As in Apples to Apples, our cards are drawn from a random set of opportunities we choose, and the world judges our choices subjectively. What is scary to one person might be perceived as exciting to another. Street-smart to one person might mean well-educated to another.
Thirty years ago when I started college, I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. The average grades I earned didn’t reflect my abilities, but reflected more the confusion I had about what major to declare. My focus on extracurricular projects, like the debate team and serving as President of Kissimmee Social Tribe at Mississippi College, might have been interpreted by some as a lack of interest in academics instead of opportunities to develop rich leadership skills. My score on the ACT test might have sent the message that I wasn’t top scholarship material, when in reality, I was a member of the National Honor Society and elected by my peers as “Most Likely to Succeed.” Throughout life we have to be judged by tangible measures: references from former employers, published articles, awards received, etc. Whomever they are, the judges in our lives look at the cards we have chosen to play.
Is life all about subjective judgement? Wow! Board games can lead to very deep thought.