My Infinite Game
In game theory, there are two types of games.
In finite games (short and long) there are players, there are rules and there are winners. The game is designed to end, and it's based on scarcity of resources.
In the infinite game, though, something completely different is going on. In the infinite game, the point is to keep playing, not to win. In the infinite game, the journey is all there is. And so, players in an infinite game never stop giving so that they can take.
When I first started creating courses on Udemy, it was because I was seeking a more stable and durable source of income, more time flexibility and less early morning hours writing hundreds of lines of program code.
I think that having specific goals is a necessary thing in life and they have their place. But for my efforts in online teaching, I really did not have any fixed goals. What I had instead were initiatives. Four years on, my income is indeed more stable, I have more time flexibility and I spend much much less time writing code. Of course, all of these things can be improved even further. So they are more of a continuum.
In all of this happening, there was something else that I did not fully anticipate. And that was Connection. Through the courses I was forming real human connections. The messages from course participants where they say ... I am doing this course because ....
“I've lost my job and am looking to re-skill”. “My current job does not pay enough and I want to move into a higher paying area.” “I love to learn” “I was so frustrated trying to find this type of material, but now I have, thank you.” “No one at my work wants to teach me this stuff, so it was so great when I found these courses.”
... and on and on.
Real people, with real lives, with real challenges and motivations. And I have an opportunity to touch those lives in some small way. This cannot be described by some specific S.M.A.R.T. goal as the productivity pundits like to promulgate. This is a continuum. This has become my infinite game. The point of it is to keep playing for as long as I can.
Yes I have to pay bills, and I do. Yes I have to invest, and I do. Yes we have to check all of those boxes and be responsible. But those things are there to merely sustain life but it cannot be what I live for. If someone (who is not going through tough financial times) one day tells me that they get great fulfillment from paying their electricity bill, I will immediately give them the number for my psychotherapists office.
Killing a pain in one's life leaves a void that does not automatically become filled with joy. Most times there is just a void. Joy must be explicitly created.
I have reached this point where I want to work on my craft so that I can keep on working on my craft. The point is to keep on playing, not to “cash out” one day. It is said that musicians don't retire, but rather that they simply run out of music. I hope to be like a musician, that when I come to a point where I can no longer play the game, that whatever little talent I have has been thoroughly expended in connecting with others, and contributing, and did not lay wasted inside of me.
I follow a minimalist way of life for a few reasons. Ridding myself of unnecessary possessions and clutter makes room for more time, more space, more opportunity to play my game, to connect, to teach, to push my music out into the world, in the hope that it may touch lives, in the deep hope that when I leave this world, that I would have given more than I would have taken from it.
The idea of retirement is a man made concept created within a certain time frame for a certain purpose, with it's requisite merits. But times and the world have changed, and the rules of society need to be individually reexamined and questioned and tested to see if they continue to be viable.
The way in which I play my infinite game may change, may evolve as I grow, but I still want to keep on playing for as long as I can. There is no retirement within this framework.
I want to keep playing until there is no more music left in me. This is my hope.