“This is our predicament. Over and over again, we lose sight of what is important and what isn’t.”- Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher (c.55AD-135AD)
In Chapter 1 (“Learn Rule #1) of When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, John Ortberg describes the time he finally beat his competitive grandmother in Monopoly. He wanted the thrill of winning to stay with him forever. Heady with victory, John quips, he briefly lost touch with reality. But, young John came back to earth as grandma taught him one final lesson. In the words of James Dobson: “Now it all goes back in the box.”
For, in the game of Monopoly, as in life, nothing truly belongs to you. As Pastor Ortberg notes, Plato summed up the entire task of philosophy as melete thanatou – “mindfulness of death.” Consequently, John explains what really matters in the game of life:
“It’s not bad to play the game .. . to be really good at it. It’s not bad to be Master of the Board. . . . the danger is that we forget to ask what really matters. We race around the board with shallow relationships, frenzied schedules, preoccupied souls. Being smart or strong does not protect you from this fate. In some ways, it makes the game more dangerous, for the temporary rewards you get from playing can lull you into pretending that the game will never end.”
Finally, John observes that the Talmud teaches everyone needs to repent one day before his/her death. That, of course, begs the question. “How will I know when that day is?” The answer – treat every day like it’s the day before your last.
Therefore, starting today, arrange your life around what matters most.
Today’s question: How would you describe your current predicament? Have you lost sight of what’s important and what isn’t? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Being rich toward God”