By Seamus Anthony
Yes, it’s a cliche, but regardless, it is very important to realise that Life is all a game: if you play by the rules and play well, you score points and win prizes.
The other day I was emailing my partner to tell her I had deposited some money into our shared account. Being a freelancer the money income is irregular, and some weeks are better than others. As I sent the email this week I felt a little flush of triumph because it had been a good week and I’d paid us more than usual. Inwardly at least, I punched the air and did a little victory dance.
Then, suddenly I got a very strong “outsiders impression” (think “alien who has never been to earth or seen our way of life before”) as to how odd this whole money palaver is. Basically it is like a game in that we just need to score points to win prizes (things we can buy). If I don’t win enough points we can’t buy food. If we win enough points we can eat like Kings. If we really win enough points we can buy more than we can ever use, or *gasp* help other people who do not have enough points to get “ahead of the game”, as the saying goes.
Basically, and not surprisingly for a sports-crazy race, we have turned the stuff of life, surviving and thriving, into a game with a points scoring system (money), prizes (house, car, early retirement)and rules. Break the rules and you will probably lose points, or privileges (freedom). Really break the rules and you may suffer the penalties of ill health or even death (so game-winners go to the gym, eat their greens and don’t murder their spouse even when they are sorely tempted to do so).
But how do you score points? You create “value” or “wealth” for other people and convince them to trade some of their points in exchange for what you have created. Value or Wealth can be defined in this case as something (a physical good, information or service) that the other person either needs or wants or both. If they need it, it has value to them; if they want it, same.
Creating things of value to trade always takes some time. If you can figure out how to trade your time (whether it’s your own time or other people’s time that you purchased from them) for a greater amount of money, then you stand to win. The ultimate winner in the game of life gets to use all of the time he has left in whatsoever manner as he chooses, whether productive (in earning points) or not, because he has enough points to easily provide all the value he personally needs for the rest of his life, therefore has no genuine need to trade his own time at all.
Interesting how time then is the ultimate currency – why? Because on an individual basis (i.e. per individual human) time is finite. It is scarce.
Invent an Elixir of Immortality and the very fabric of society would unravel completely. It would change the Game entirely.