Playing The Hand We Are Dealt

It’s a new year–2012–congratulations, we made it!

For the new year, I wanted to share this photo that I came across of “The World’s Largest Monopoly Game.”

To me, the most striking aspect of this photo is not the size of the game board, but that the people are actually the pieces.

So often life seems like we are pieces in a big game–as if someone is spinning the dice of life and depending on what number comes up–so goes our fortune.

But inside, I don’t really believe that–that is too fatalistic and too defeatist. At the same time, I don’t believe that we are in control of everything that happens every moment.  To me, there are larger forces at work–emanating from G-d, and we must “play” the hand we are dealt.

G-d sends us tests and trusts in life, as Rick Warren says–we do not directly control these.

The tests and trusts give us the opportunity to grow beyond what we are today, to learn life’s hard lessons, to care for others, and ultimately to elevate ourselves.

Indirectly, how we do and how well we learn life’s lessons–sometimes “hard knocks”–may influence the nature of the future tests and trusts that G-d sends us.

In Monopoly, the roll of the dice or the Chance and Community Chest cards seem to determine our fate–how many spaces we move ahead, how much we have to pay or how much we receive, or whether we end up in the proverbial Monopoly jail.  In contrast, in real life, we have the power to choose how we react to to those “chance” events–do we get angry, do we lash out, do we become defeatist or do we fight for what we want and really believe in.

For the New Year, what a great time to resolve to take back some control over lives and to not just be like human pieces in a big game of Monopoly–to choose instead to accept the tests and trusts that you are give and to do the best that you can to grow from them.

This morning, I heard Joel Osteen say on TV that we should prophesize good for ourselves, so that our words can open the door for G-d to bless us.

While, I do not think that our words of desire control what G-d does, I do believe that how we act does influence events, although not always in the way we think.

There is the age old question of why do the evil prosper and the good people suffer?  Often, I’ve heard various answers given that either we don’t really know who is good or evil, we can’t understand G-d’s plan, or the real reward and punishment is in the World to Come.

However you see it–G-d’s plan and ultimate justice–what we can constructively do is to try our best everyday and in every way–what a better plan than just circling the Monopoly board like a helpless and hapless piece in one big game.

(Source photo: here)

Life Perspective

Cycle_of_life

I saw this picture and immediately feel in love with it–it is so simple, yet so brilliant.

Like the 6 days of creation and then G-d rested, this picture illuminates in 6 panes of shades of black and white, the cycle of life of man and woman, and then stops (rests).

From carefree children to growing young adults, love and marriage, old age together, loss and loneliness, and finally together again–returned to the earth and I believe in the after-world.

The tree on the left overhangs and follows the path of the couple; it grows, matures, and seems to whither along with them–this is mother earth clearly sheltering and closely intertwined with its children.

The connection between people and earth, between one person and another, and between this world and the next…the whole of life’s existence and purpose seems to be expressed here.

The meaning and purpose is inherent in the cycle itself–throughout our growth, we experience trials and tribulation–and our mettle is tested and proven until it ends or perhaps begins again.

The overall story is of time marching on, and we but mortals experiencing so much–growth and decline, connection and separation, pleasure and pain–yet never escaping time’s grasp.

This is the cycle of life and G-d is ever at the helm.

To me, this picture brings perspective, understanding, fear, and peace all at the same time.

(Source Photo: here)