Jacks and the Game of Life: Part I
When I was teaching my granddaughter to play jacks, I realized why my mother never objected when I played jacks for hours on end. She knew I was getting ready for life. There are strategies for being a champion at jacks which translate well to succeeding at life.
1. Practice: That’s the first and most obvious strategy. To be good at jacks, you must play jacks. To be good at life, you must live it. You say, “Well, of course I live it. What choice do I have?” Unfortunately, the choice many make, without even being aware, is to sit on the sidelines and watch someone else live. Unuh, you’ve got to live it yourself.
2. Take risks: This is closely tied to “Don’t be afraid to look foolish.” In jacks, sometimes you look at the way the jacks have fallen, and you’re sure you don’t have a chance. But it is, after all, your turn, so you might as well try to grab those three that are so far apart. And sometimes you make it, and, well, sometimes you’re just learning how to make a better try the next time. But at least you didn’t say, “I give up.”
3. Allow space: With the game of jacks, especially when you’re on ones, you want to throw the jacks carefully so that you’ll have enough space between jacks to pick up one without disturbing the other. In life, you need to have enough space between responsibilities to shift gears.
For a period of time, I lived several blocks from the school where I taught. The voices of my young students would still be in my ears when I opened the front door to the sounds of my own children and their needs. I know now I should have taken a longer route home; the demands were too close together. I needed to have more space between them.
Conversely, with jacks, as you need to pick up three, four, eight at a time, you want them to be close together. There’s a lesson here, but I think it’s something trite like “When you get the house clean, invite everyone you know to come over before it gets dirty again.”
To be continued …
© Dorothy C. Judd
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