Playing the hand

Why do I flip through the Meditations every day? Because I forget.

After meditating this morning I came across this: “To love only what happens, what was destined. No greater harmony.”

It’s amor fati again.

Loving what happens to us is the opposite of what we are taught. Our entire lives is spent developing mental habits and shortcuts that are the exact opposite of what brings us the most serenity and opportunity.

The next passage says this:

“In all that happens, keep before your eyes those who experienced it before you, and felt shock and outrage and resentment at it.
And now where are they? Nowhere.
Is that what you want to be like? Instead of avoiding all these distracting assaults—leaving the alarms and flight to others—and concentrating on what you can do with it all?
Because you can use it, treat it as raw material.”

Energy is neutral. Everything that happens to us is energy. We can decide how to distribute it.

Cheryl Strayed understands this. In Tiny Beautiful Things, she says that “there is no why. You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you are holding.”

This is why I flip through books that have deeply impacted me. I forget.

Consider a song from Jay Z’s The Black Album, called “Justify my Thug”. In the first verse he says:

“I just play the hand I’m dealt, I can’t say I’ve never knelt
Before God and asked for better cards at times to no avail
But I never sat back feelin’ sorry for myself
If you don’t give me heaven I’ll raise hell”

How many times do we act out that scenario?

Something shitty happens and we feel angry or distressed or hurt and then we decide to overcome it.

We can only do that when we accept, when we own whatever happens to us. Cheryl Strayed says:

“The most terrible and beautiful and interesting things happen in a life. For some of you, those things have already happened. Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”

You’ll come across this counsel in many forms from many people at many different points in your life. Cheryl Strayed knows it. So does Jay Z. So did Marcus.

Life is a crooked dealer. You’re sitting in his casino. As he slides the cards across the table to you he smiles because he knows and you know that the odds aren’t in your favour. The game is rigged.

But you can’t leave the table. The only way out is death. You don’t have a choice.

Play the hand.