ListenFromTheHeart: #4 The Gambler – Kenny Rogers

IGCSE English, one thing that I took away from that was the fact that CONTEXT always matters.

So to put this into context, here’s a little glimpse at my past:
During my last two years of IB, I went to a boarding school in Hong Kong. It was a place where a philosophical debate about cultural expectations till 3am in the morning was the norm, and it was never too early for a discussion about sustainability at the table. I was lucky enough to meet some lovely people whom, I can more or less say literally, changed my life.

One of these people was a unique friend, whom not only inspired me always to see the better side of life, but always had either a witty comment to add colour to a conversation, or simply an insightful piece of advice during a bad time. But above all, the one thing that was a problem: his gambling addiction.

Many nights were spent shuffling cards and placing bets. Poker nights.

I guess it was completely fitting that he had chosen this song to represent himself, not just literally, but also metaphorically.

The first time I picked up cards to play poker, I didn’t understand how the game in anyway could be fair. It was all left up to chance. Although it may be a slight exaggeration, there are often times when a game of poker would be exactly how life would work:

  • You are given a goal. To get the best ‘combination’ of cards in which you are able to outdo all the other players.
  • You are then given the circumstances, ones that are given to you at random.
  • You take what you have, and give it your best shot.
  • You choose how much you’re willing to fight for that choice, how much are you willing to take that risk.
  • The higher the risk, the bigger the gain, but also the bigger the loss.

There are so many times we end up at crossroads in life, and it’s not a simple yes or no. It branches into many different smaller paths, some seemingly more easy than others, though everything is hidden behind a cloud of fog. You can see the end point, up high in the hill. Though you know that others are also making those choices, with their own given circumstances, trying to reach the same result.

He said this about the song: “Something’s are worth fighting for; others are not. There are some battles that must be do-or-die but not every battle in life is like that.”

How willing would you be to just call “all in”, or sprint down that path of uncertainty in order to reach the goal.

The game continues:

  • The cards are revealed
  • You win or you lose

“We have to know our limitations and the limitation of others around us (an the limitations of time, age, society) and sometimes, we have to realize the futility of our attempt, and move on.”

There are times when everything goes well, the effort you have put in pays off, and you reach closer towards that goal you had been fighting for. Though sometimes, you put all your heart and mind into something, and it ends up disintegrating into pieces, resulting in nothing.

Although in the game, the ultimate goal is to have the best hand of cards, life is slightly different.

Success can be defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” (by Google). But that aim or purpose may actually differ between one person to another. One may define success with financial stability. Another may define success with successful relationships. For me, I define success with happiness.

A few days ago, I had a discussion about contentment, and whether or not it’s a good thing.

It may be good in the way that you are satisfied and appreciative of your current situation. From the other side, contentment may lead to complacency. But in the end…

I would like to know that at the end of my life, I am content.
In the way in which I am content with my own life. Content with the progress in my career I had made, content with the relationships I had formed, content with the effort I had put into making this world a better place, no matter how small the impact.

“Everybody is a winner and loser. In the end, it doesn’t matter. So let’s take it easy, and leave our regrets behind. If you die with a smile on your face, and you have tried, at least, to lead a good life – then don’t worry so much about all that you haven’t been able to accomplish.”

Disclaimer: This friend of mine doesn’t actually have a gambling problem, he just really likes poker. But he is very wise.


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