Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Exploit the Day

I have often bemoaned my inability to play strategic games. I can't see all those moves ahead to see how everything will work out. I lack the ability to forecast what moves my opponents will make. So I always feel trapped, and therefore play halfheartedly.

A couple of weeks ago we were discussing this in anticipation of a game night and DOB said, "Don't try to do something you can't do. Just do what you're good at. Play to your own strengths." Well, what can I do in a strategic game? I can't assess the far future, but I am pretty good at taking in the current turn. I'm good at noticing where other people need to be blocked, and how to get the most power (money, land, whatever the goal is) available on this turn.

So I played that way, exploiting the opportunities I could find and thwarting others when I could. And I won. Turns out that playing the best for the moment works pretty good in the long haul--certainly much better than panicking or giving up.

Now to apply that lesson to real life. It's easy for me to feel panicky or lost right now. Everything is hanging on the bar exam, and towards that I can do nothing except keep the children quiet (and on that score my success is limited). After that, who knows? I don't know whether I'll have to take the bar next; I don't know when or how DOB will get a job; I'm not sure whether I will find work or how much; I don't know when we'll have our "own" place again or for how long; and even small goals are closed down by the twins, who have a radar for determining when parents are doing something interesting and productive so they can promptly interrupt.

The long range is beyond my knowledge. I have to exploit this turn. Today. It will probably come in handy to have educated, well-trained children, so I should take advantage of them wanting to do school and help with the dishes. I could certainly use extra energy and strength whatever comes, so doing another day's exercise is a good idea. Everyone needs fed, everyone needs a conversation, everyone needs sleep. DOB needs quiet to study and it's not raining at the moment, so why not go outside?

Someday, maybe the board will open up and I'll see where this is going. The twins have hit that eighteen-month point where their ability to play and talk takes off, and I begin to see light at the end of the toddler tunnel. The bar exam will be over in seven weeks and one day, and then it will be time to assess what to do next. Right now, I've got this turn to play.


Rachelle said...

I'm amazed that you are attempting the Bar Exam with four small children. I wish you quiet and a good cup of coffee. You can do it!

Wendy said...

Brilliant post!

When the kids (or I) am overwhelmed with a task, I always say, "Let's see what we DO know how to do, and do that."

I think that's how God trains us to trust.

Now that I think of it, maybe He is teaching us how HE thinks. It's always now to God.

Bettie said...

Nicely put. And good decision.

the Joneses said...

I liked this way of thinking very much. I feel the same way about strategy games, and it's heartening to realize that I do have strengths to play to. Likewise, it's nice to know that I'm not just marking time in life while everybody else rushes around accomplishing their goals. My style is different, but I'm playing the game too.


-- SJ