If life is a game, I’m playing Snakes and Ladders. Over and over again I’m on the home stretch, convinced I’ll outwit the serpents. I throw the dice and gulp! I’m going down the longest snake on the board. The one that poops you out at START when FINISH is but a few mocking blocks away.
That snake was the most feared and revered on the massive soft plastic ‘board’ my sons and I played on.
It’s disheartening and infuriating. Of late, when I find myself swallowed whole into the dark and stretched belly of the beast, conscious and undigested all the way through, I am livid.
It’s important to understand and accept that our ‘progress’ (is it something we should even be measuring or naming?) is much like a game of Snakes and Ladders – there’s no telling when we’re going to go down a snake, even if we’ve successfully climbed a number of ladders and feel smug about it.
Just two weeks ago, I commented on a post on Instagram:
I know precisely how it feels to have a big wobbly when you thought all that stuff was done and dusted…it can disorient one and make you question the validity of the work you’ve put into healing and moving forward…I finally understand that life is not a ladder we climb rung by rung to some perceived perfection. It’s meandering and has many loops that take us back to sometimes unwelcome, familiar territory…
I said ‘loops’ – here they’re snakes. I have nothing against snakes. A brother, and my eldest son, kept snakes. But snakes are The Devil in the simple but tense game of Snakes and Ladders. They defeat you effortlessly by taking you back to memories of struggle, perceived failure, or inadequacy, whatever your ‘triggers’ are.
No matter what we do, no matter how crafty we get at throwing the dice at a certain angle, or blowing our cupped hands as we shake them up to ‘magic’ the numbers, we’re going to go down a colorful serpent, short or long, sooner or later.
I have a knack for avoiding all the short ones only to go way, way, way down the longest owner of a forked tongue.
I can’t even say I see it coming.
I’ll be at a point where I think I’m playing a game of Ladders. No Snakes. Then the moon winks, the planets align, and within hours I’m on a board that feels like a snake pit, and there’s only one ladder, and you have to jump to reach the first rung, and do a pull-up to get a grip on the next. I lose the battle and fall atop a snake ball. Down I go…down into the long, long belly of fear and admittedly, anger.
I go with ill grace and enough venom to poison the snake.
I feel frustrated. I feel the injustice in this world.
In our own lives, and in that of others, we can become acutely aware of unfairness, persecution, slander, deceit, abuse in all its forms etc, and without satisfying explanations, or knowledge of eons of universal complexity (there are many theories and beliefs about why and what for, but for me there is no way of truly knowing, and I’ve made peace with that) we are repeatedly at risk of being swallowed by a snake.
I will feel heart-tired, soul-tired, mind-tired. I will wish I could go to a fair and find a stall where you pay to throw plates. I’d give good money to throw plates and see them smash. I’d throw them with such force the shards would spray like shrapnel and embed themselves in the deserving.
I told you it was venomous.
More than that, it’s honest.
Without fail, what gets me out of the belly of the beast is I GIVE UP!
You surrender and say to your spiritual support team ‘I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know what to do. Help me.’
You’ve passed the burdensome buck on, and it’s no longer only your problem. It’s a Universal problem requiring the intervention of Management.
Without fail, too, I receive a gift from the Universe, something that says to me ‘We know you’re a bit embarrassed about the hissy fit you had in the shower cubicle last night. You’re worried we might throw in the towel and walk out on you. Please know we love you unconditionally. We understand.’ It’s the lovely long ladder, the one on the 3rd or 4th block from START, that has me shooting up the board and feeling hopeful again.
As many Snakes as there are on my board, there are more Ladders: loyal, loving family and friends, a lawn to sit on, sunshine on my shoulders to make me happy (as per John Denver), a washing machine, a fridge, a car, running water in my home (there are many folks who have none of these things). The list goes on.
The long snake is glad to be rid of me because it’s got acid reflux. When I’m no longer cross for being back at START again, I get back in the game with a serene and clear visage, surprisingly enthusiastic about throwing the dice because this time…this time…
I will slither passed, unnoticed.
Do you feel you’ve gone down a long snake recently? Or are you in a happy ladders phase?
PS After publishing this post I remembered a track I’d recently added to my playlist – Fall (feat. Sasha Sloan) by ODESZA. ‘Everybody falls down, all the way down, you just gotta hold on tight. You gotta get up, gotta get up, gonna make it through this time’ Sums it up, doesn’t it?