Lancashire Yogi has been playing all sorts of games recently. Board games, that is, as opposed to any other kind of games.
He has had a bunch of visitors who have all requested games of chess, or backgammon, or cards, or (horror of horrors!) monopoly.
He has played jenga, twister (a great game for budding yogis!) and snakes and ladders. He was cajoled by a couple of friends to play hide and seek. And when all else failed he found himself playing battleships.
It’s been a week of game playing. And it has been fun. And tiring. But it’s also been quite insightful.
Everyone gathered round and learned the rules. Each game started pleasantly enough. But as the pace quickened and the urge to ‘win’ grew, there was a tendancy for dirty tricks, aspersions and barbed asides. Trust quickly went out the window and particularly in monopoly whenever a player nipped to the loo everyone protected their stash of winnings and properties. The competitive spirit was loud and clear in Lancashire Yogi’s house last week. A couple of Lancashire Yogis friends got a bit too heated and Lancashire Yogi took them outside to do some yogic breathing and a couple of downward facing dogs. Yogic breathing changed the state to say the least. But the thing that broke the spell of the competitive spirit and nascent aggresssion though, was when Kaiser disappeared into the kitchen and returned with huge steaming mugs of tea and a freshly baked carrot cake. He cut pieces for everyone and handed them out with the tea.
At some point in one of the games, Kaiser had disappeared into the kitchen and prepared a delicious carrot cake, shoved it in the oven and returned to the game while waiting for it to bake. When he knew it was ready, he hooked it out the oven and brought it to us, freshly baked, with delicious mugs of tea. Marion wanted to know why he did it, “Oh I just figured that sooner or later we would want some tea and cake and figured I could make it while the game was going on. Turned out ok, don’t you think?” he explained. This was an act of kindness and it transformed the game. Infact, with cake and mugs in hand, the game became something fun, and light hearted, inclusive and interesting.
Lancashire Yogi has been thinking about this a lot. He likes to think of life as a game. A glorious game where one can have fun, find oneself, make connections with others, and through the play of the game come to new insights that propel us forwards. What has worried Lancashire Yogi about this is the competitive element and the desire to win that is so pervasive in games. In life we see so much of the competitive winning element that it is hard not associate life with this, if we try to see life as a game. However Kaiser’s behaviour made Lancashire Yogi realise that you can treat life as a game, just so long as you make an effort at and don’t loose sight of our common humanity and kindness. The Dalai Lama has said “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness”. Lancashire Yogi likes this a lot. You cannot go too far wrong with efforts of kindness to others and other sentient beings, and indeed, you can still enjoy the game of life let alone the board games we can play in life.