It’s often difficult to explain the seven types of play that inform modern society. People understand the concepts of Frivolity and perhaps Communal Identity, stopping to consider, they may recognise Power play. However, time and again I find myself explaining Self-actualisation and Fate. Self-actualisation is taken so much as part of Western society now that it is as difficult to explain as electricity, both to those who have grown up with it and those who did not, and with whom it jars. Examples are often a clear way to approach explanations – parables if you want to be biblical about it. These are best drawn from the popular culture and who better to embody that than those paragons of musical virtue, Abba. I admit to being biased because I love their music with a love far beyond a foot-tapping appreciation of Dancing Queen, but one of their songs truly does illustrate both the play of Fate – the idea that you play with the universe for your own existence – and the play of Self-actualisation.
The Winner Takes It All was written about the breakdown of relationships within the band and takes the very idea of a gaming to show the impossibility of playing against Fate and the danger of playing against another Self-actualising entity. It’s a classic example of the pain that these kinds of play cause and the curious way in which life throws you a curve ball that you genuinely can’t control.
“The Gods may throw a dice, their minds as cold as ice, And someone way down here loses someone dear”
“I’ve played all my cards and that’s what you’ve done too. Nothing more to say. No more ace to play.”
Love is one of those things that we have no control over but in our society we live under the illusion that everything is manipulable. The rise in the “rights rather than responsibilities” manifested in the rise in petty lawsuits illustrates this perfectly. If life doesn’t deliver what we want someone is to blame and if we don’t grasp opportunities we are failures, or we have been cheated. There is no sense any more that, sometimes, life is just like that. You play all your cards, you lose. It’s a harsh and ancient form of play and it is at odds with our more modern Self-actualising rhetoric.
These are the thoughts I have at my desk on wintery afternoons and write down for your reading pleasure – and for the pleasure of playing my own Self-actualisation. No wonder there is a generational and societal confusion around this emerging spirituality.
This blog, Waking the Midnight Sun , has linked to this post through a poem.