It's all a game

Updated: Jul 3, 2019

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman

Death is inevitable, and so is aging. Looking to aged parents and older siblings, it seems to me the balancing act is to have the financial provisions to last the distance, while having the mind, body and will to go the distance together.

My Dad, who is in his late 80's, has commented more than once on the conundrum of how to budget in retirement - 'I just don't know how much longer we're going to live'. He is slower than in previous years (obviously), but otherwise active, healthy and living a full life. He is lucky, he has mind, body and will. Rudolf's mother on the other hand, wants life to end. She is now 95 and although her body is frail, she wakes up every morning. She doesn't want to. She has mind and body, she just doesn't have will.

Rudolf and I are both the youngest of our respective families. We both have older siblings in their later 60's who have developed illnesses that have progressed; one of mind, one of body. Another of my siblings was in an accident a number of years back and acquired multiple physical injuries. Two have will, one I'm not sure. One sister of mine has just reached retirement, is very active and loving life, her worry is finances. Outside my family, I've been following Julie Negrin in her podcast Sex, Drugs and Disability, and these are all themes she is juggling. She speaks of her failing health and newly acquired disability. She speaks of wanting an end; she just doesn't want that end to be death.

Yesterday Rudolf and I were immersed in family and the topic of our plans for retirement came up. Now, let's put this question into perspective here - we are only in our mid 50's so we still have another decade or so to go before retirement is a reality. This is almost like when we were in our 20's and 30's and being asked about when we thought we might have kids!

On the question of retirement, looking forward and making a prediction is different to assessing a current situation and making a decision. My thoughts now, though, are that I don't want to retire at any particular age; I know Rudolf doesn't foresee a traditional retirement. We are in the lucky position that we can just transition slowly, when it suits. We are both deeply invested in our endeavors and enterprises, and for me, they give purpose and this gives will. If we were to retire we would need to find new purpose and that is inconceivable at the moment.

There's a book by James Carter titled Finite and Infinite Games. It's an interesting read. In it he goes into depth about the two types of games:

There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other, infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.

At the time that I stumbled onto this piece of work, I was deeply intrigued by the parallel I was seeing in matching GSL team ability to client needs, so we could support clients to their goals. In this sense I was conceptualizing a finite game. Team A representing 'Need' and Team B representing 'Ability'. The objective of the game is to get client to goal. There were many flaws in the analogy that I wont go into here, but the premise was enough to help us come up with a new process for matching team to client, and the communication tools for team to share effectiveness of client strategies.

Whilst immersed in this piece of work, it occurred to me that GSL itself is also a game. This had never occurred to me. In my mind, GSL is an infinite game. Rudolf and I may have been founders, but the purpose is for it to continue. We will continue playing for as long as we can, but our 'end of play' will not be the end of the game AKA, GSL. This, in some sense, has brought me peace. I love the idea that GSL is an infinite game and that it could potentially go on forever. I love that I can keep playing for as long as I like and the idea that this applies to everyone else in GSL.

My thought as I write this blog is that anyone who chooses to play can do so, as long as they know their role is to keep the game playing.

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