Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will. – Jawaharlal Nehru
My interpretation of the above quote is that determinism refers to what was already been decided and determined for you (in the past). What we choose to do going forward, that is Free Will.
There are so many expressions that we commonly use in our everyday conversations that come from the ordinary deck of playing cards. It is amazing how something as serious and precious as life is compared to playing cards and yet the phrases seem to describe the life situations pretty accurately.
Have you ever heard someone say that they don’t want to “get lost in the shuffle” or ask the question, “What’s the deal anyway?” Most of us have heard people say, “It’s just not in the cards for me to …” when things didn’t work out the way they planned. When someone seems to be in charge of a situation, people say that they are “holding all the cards.” Some days many people feel as though “the cards have been stacked against me” when nothing they try works out or something seems to be blocking their efforts or from achieving their goals.
If someone doesn’t seem to know what they are doing, people often say, “They’re not playing with a full deck!” When someone is confused about a particular situation, they ask, “What’s the deal?” We have also heard people say, “I need to play my cards right to …” when they want to take make the most of certain opportunities present in their life. Then there others who love to tell us that we need to “learn to play the hand we’ve been dealt” when things are not going our way. For some who can do everything they say that they’re “the Jack of all trades”.
Many times we see people being secretive about their plans, thoughts, or feelings. We say they are “playing their cards close to their chest” like many card players do. When people want someone to openly reveal what their plans or intentions are, they usually ask them to “put (or lay) your cards on the table.”
There are dozens of other playing cards catchphrases that pop up in everyday conversation. Playing cards catchphrases have even spread into professional technical lingo. Computer science, athletics, and legal professional jargons are also filled with playing cards catchphrases.
Take a phrase like the wild card. In card games, the wild card refers to a card that the player can determine its value. In sports, a wild card player or team is an outside factor that has suddenly become included for some reason or another and may influence the outcome of a sporting event. Computer programmers refer to the wild card when discussing a symbol that symbolizes one or more undefined characters in a text. In a legal trial, a wild card witness is a surprise factor that could influences the case. Every time you use playing cards catchphrases, you will be carrying on slogans that have been used for centuries and originated from the invention of the playing cards and their cards games more than a thousand years ago.
Anyone familiar with cards knows the luck is in the cards, the skill is in the player. Learning the game is part of playing well. But you only have the cards you have. Sometimes you just have to work through this hand and hope the next hand is better, as all things go through cycles. But you must do what you can with what you have at the time. There is so much to learn from a game of cards, if we want to. I find it so interesting to watch a group of serious card players playing their game. You can’t change the cards that have been dealt to you. But you can with your confidence and attitude even win the game by playing a bluff. There are so many circumstances in life that we cannot change. But there are still many events in which we can play an active role and influence the result.
William Shakespeare wisely said, “Laughing faces do not mean that there is absence of sorrow! But it means that they have the ability to deal with it.” Similarly, the happiest people are not those who have the best of everything. They are those who make the most of what comes their way.
The best way to deal with life is stated in this beautiful prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
It’s how we deal with the challenges that we face in life that makes all the difference. Complaining about what we cannot change, will not solve any problem, it is actually a waste of time and energy. Let us use our time and energy to make a difference, where and when we can.
“Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her; but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.” ~ Voltaire
What have you been dealt? How will you play it?