life as a game
I wonder at what the best frame to view life through is and the question of seeing life as a sort of game is one that I cannot get away from. The notion of it as a 'game' seems to suggest a less-than-sublime situation, however we can just say it is a 'higher' sort of game. In fact, it is the ultimate game.
If you set up a game you define the boundaries, what can and can't be done, the rules of engagement and what is needed to win. In many respects, and with no intentions of sounding blasphemous or critical, this sounds very close to how God has set up this life.
This lens has a number of implications. Firstly, if you keep this in mind, it can serve to lessen the anxiety associated with taking life too seriously, as well as serve to keep grief manageable. By that same token however, tragedy can seem an absurd notion; things that one should live and experience to their very core can take on a bleak aura. A friend is dead, 'so what?' is the answer. 'This is just the game of life.' To be removed from the joys and woes of life is in itself a tragedy for to not feel them is not to experience life itself.
To view life as a sort of divine game also has its nihilistic perspective. You can believe it but rebel at the notion of playing it, and not take the rules seriously. You can also play it with no passion and drag yourself accross the pitch, just because that is what the rules demand. In that scenario you have no passion to offer and then the question is what use is that verve for life that we all very much have a potential for? Many will rebel at the notion entirely considering it an absurd one, and with that lose faith in God. That maybe to ignore him as if he didn't exist or lose faith in him as one does in a friend – the friend still exists but you don't talk anymore.
Games seek to make life interesting and to allow us to compete, and in that competiton something of the spirit of life and what we are capable of shines through. It would seem to me that life as a divine game seeks the same end. The Quran speaks of God having created life and death to see 'which one of you is best in deed'. Competing in doing good is a constant theme.
As a divine game however, for it to end in eternal damnation or eternal bliss is a concept that I have to consider further. For something that is only a game, the stakes seem very high. After most games, one gets to go home and have a shower and a cup of tea. Many would say that the possibility of evil within life itself it too high a stake. In all games there are still referees to make sure things do not get out of hand. However, if this wasn't the highest stakes game there is, it wouldn't be called life. Anything less than this might be meaningless because meaning itself is bourne to some degree out of choice.
There is a liberation to see what we do as a game. With us at the centre, there are exapnding concentric circles of games at all levels, till you get to the outer ring demarcating the boundary, and that ring is the ring of life. The pressure of expectations to do one thing or another can be alleviated when one realises that we are all just maneuvering piece on the chess board. To take a quick third-person perspective on your decisions in life can be a beneficial therapy.
Ultimately everything we do is a sort of game with parameters and rules. The only good choice here is to play it well. When things are not going well it seems a cruel game. But one must come back fighting into the ring because to sit on the sidelines is to become dead before ones time.