Many years ago, when my eldest son was about six years old, I introduced him to Chutes and Ladders, the next board game up from Candyland on the sophistication scale. Nothing but luck, the game nevertheless contains an engaging element of the unpredictable, as any roll of the die can rocket you up a ladder to the top or send you plummeting down a slide to the bottom.
My son took to the game immediately, and we bonded while moving our respective pieces up and down the board. And then, with fatherly foresight, I waited for the moment of supreme joy and excitement as my son counted his piece onto the 100 mark at the top of the playing grid.
“You won!” I cried out, expecting him to respond with elation.
Instead, my son looked at the board, looked at me, and burst into tears.
“What’s wrong?” I exclaimed, genuinely flummoxed.
“I don’t want the game to be over!” he bawled.
Oh, if only they could stay six years old forever.
It’s worth examining what happens as we grow older that makes us lose the joy of the game in our headlong pursuit of victory. Maybe it’s that we’re not paying attention. Maybe it’s that we’re paying too much attention.
Or maybe it’s both.