Keep Playing the Game of Life

Soldiers take a break after a long battle in Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese classic, Kagemusha. The sun setting in the peaceful backdrop is symbolic to battles we have in our own lives, and how we feel after the fact. (20th Century Fox Image)

Like a thirst, I’ve been anxious to write here again for the last few days. As we all know, life is a river that just pulls you along; at times, its currents will pull you under, in which case you’ll have no choice but to swim for your life.

Adult life is turbulent. More so than most of us are willing to realize or admit. We get so caught up in those currents that we lose sight of ourselves; our mental and physical health, our friends and loved ones… even our own dreams. Worst of all, we lose sight of what it means to be human, to feel good and be happy. Finances, job security, living conditions, bills, transportation, family, relationships, it all adds up into an overwhelming palette of things we all have to juggle daily in order to stay in the game.

See, as a kid, you don’t really think about these things. You got a home, parents that will feed you, buy you things here and there, and generally nurture you to that adult life (I’m generalizing, as not everyone’s upbringing is this linear, but for the sake of argument). “I’ll figure it out one day” is a kid’s way of seeing it; that when they grow up, they’ll have everything they want and do whatever they want. Mind you, kids still have problems. Their own, smaller problems. Maybe they’re being bullied, or struggling with school, or trying to figure out how to talk to that girl or boy they’re crushing hard on.

When you reach a new tier in life, so does everything else, and the consequences of not dealing with it in a healthy way can be unforgiving.

I was a kid once, and can honestly say that sometimes any one of those “little” issues became my whole world. I thought, “I’ll grow up, I’ll be stronger, and smarter, and figure it all out.” I guess I can say some of those things came true, but what I didn’t understand as a kid is that the older you get, the challenges, trials and problems in your life grow with you. When you reach a new tier, so does everything else, and the consequences of not dealing with it in a healthy way can be unforgiving.

That, really, brings me to the words that I (and everyone else) should use more often: self care. It’s that moment when you pump the brakes on everything in your life and take a look around; at the good and the bad, where you’re getting ahead and where you’re falling behind. As I’ve been learning recently, it’s crucial that we all allow ourselves those intimate moments of self-reflection; within these deep thoughts, we can heal, prioritize, focus, let go, and, again, slow down.

No one really thinks about that anymore – slowing down – because everything in our lives is so fast-paced and demanding of our time. It’s also how stress is forged, because at some point we feel all we do is run and run, and never catch our breath.

What was the last time you went for a walk on a beach?

Seems cliche when someone tells you, “take a deep breath” but there’s good reason for that; it’s part of the process of slowing down, of giving your body a break (and a breath!). None of that four or five quick breaths and then “I’m fine” crap. I’m talking deep breaths, through your belly, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. It’s the simplest thing ever, yet it’s easily forgettable when dealing with our daily routine.

And that’s just it. No one and nothing waits in life. The bus won’t slow down for you. Your boss won’t be more lenient on you; your finances won’t suddenly fix themselves and all the other stresses won’t just fade away overnight. It’s all about managing our stress intake, pumping the brakes when it’s too much, and more important of all, being patient with ourselves.

At the end of the day, self care is truly what allows us to keep playing the game of life, one day at a time.

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