Having my bro in town for Thanksgiving meant just that much more talking, the voice of one more story-filled life to contribute to the conversation. So it's either very fitting or absolute overkill for us to have chosen the "playing" of a talk-prompting board game for
Today's New Activity: Playing Shift
I found the game among the other old standbys (Pictionary, Taboo, Trivial Pursuit) in the closet, and when I asked my Mom about it she said she'd never played it. I should have had a pretty good idea about the nature of it when she said she got it from one of the vendors at an Organic/Holistic Expo she organized a few years back in Colorado. This was definitely to be something of an ungame.
So basically, the idea in Shift is to move your game piece out of FEAR, at one end of the board, into LOVE, at the other end. In order to move it, you have to first roll "trust" on a die marked only with "trust" and "doubt" and then roll a second, numbered die to determine what card you'll play. If this is sounding super new-agey and hippied-out so far, it's because it is. But I do have that gene in my body (pretty sure that one came from my Mom's contribution to the DNA), so I was up for it. And as much as we made fun of some of the game's questions, tasks, and overall lack of real clear cut objective, we all played along.
This is something I truly love about my family. I was raised to just, I don't know, be game, to participate, to join in, play along with, enjoy the ride. I've experienced a lifetime's worth of group birthday songs sung over the phone to an out-of-town relative, of pretending to be asleep when we hear somebody else is coming into the room (as a group--a *whole group* of people "sleeping" in the living room in the middle of the day), of making up a game in the car on the roadtrip, everybody contributing new rules as we went along. This was my childhood. These were my teenaged years. This is my present. (My two-year-old son already knows how to fake he's sleeping when he hears somebody coming :) )
As I get older, the idea of what I want, of who I want to share my life with, becomes clearer. It's a wonder to me when people are able to choose and stick with a life partner in their early 20's. I feel like in certain ways I didn't have a clue what would really matter to me in the long run at that age. But now (and this is funny, because one of the very questions in tonight's game was to name your single most-important-in-a-life-partner quality), I know very well that both a great sense-of-humor and eagerness to laugh, and this, this gameness, this quality that screams, "yes! I'm down for that, whatever it is..." are paramount characteristics when I think about dating or getting serious with somebody. It's okay if he's a cynic, a doubter and a critic. It's okay if he's disillusioned, cautious and squinting-as-he-tries-to-determine if he agrees with what's being said (I am, after all, all of those things as well). But he has to...he just HAS to be willing to participate. Even for a game like Shift. Not just willing. He has to enjoy it in his heart of hearts. I'm not saying he has to enjoy the specific game or activity. He just has to enjoy the idea of, the opportunity to join in because he's all the way there. He's shown up. God, having that kind of clarity about what I want feels really, really, really nice.
So then: back to Shift. Though it was not flawlessly or even all that consistently designed, the game did manage to bring up interesting conversation, get us thinking about and appreciating the growth we've made along our respective journeys, and even reveal some minor things we didn't know about each other before. While my family didn't really need the game to get that kind of conversation started, I'm happy there are people conceiving of and making games like this, for the families out there who do need a little bit of a nudge. And while I have serious doubts that a person could make the decision to embrace love over fear as the result of playing a board game, I do believe that every bit of practice in that area helps the cause.
C'mon over anytime you wanna play along, with this or anything really...