Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Hand Have I Been Dealt?

My dear friend C, who likes to make lists, added this to his list of beliefs:

"I’m not very fond of the saying, “You have to play the hand you’re dealt.” I believe that many of the most interesting people are those who have not played the hands they were dealt.  Personally, in my own life, I try not to be limited by the cards I was dealt at birth."

But, C, what are the cards you were dealt?  You may have been dealt controlling, hostile parents or no parents at all.  You may have begun with deprivations of all sorts, four fingers instead of five; but obviously your hand included the ability, imagination, and courage to see beyond the initial unfolding of your life.  That too is part of your hand.

Let's take the card game, bridge, for example.  In bridge you are dealt 13 cards.  Every round, another 13.  Sometimes it's all aces and faces.  Sometimes none.  You have to play the hand you are dealt.  (And, by the way, in duplicate bridge, you can even play a bleak pointless hand extraordinarily well and win the game!)

Unlike bridge, a life might offer more choices and the immediately available options change with every decision you make and every fork in every road.  The hand we are dealt makes it possible to choose Fork A or Fork U and to even go back if we don't like the view.  We might feel we're all out of cards, when out of the blue, we see another card hiding under a bush.

Of course not everyone has a bush available.  I agree with C of course, but I'm just not sure the metaphor holds up.  What do you think?  Should I delete this blog?


  1. Delete the blog? Whatever for?!

  2. This is a note from "C" who started this thing.

    Yes, it's true you can only do the things you are capable of doing (or think the things you are capable of thinking). And in that sense, anything you do is "playing the hand you're dealt" -- including trying not to play the hand you're dealt.

    But like all good metaphors, it's a little bit vague. I read "playing the hand you're dealt" as meaning to behave in a way that is OBVIOUSLY congruent with one's birth and upbringing.

    If I played the hand I was dealt (in an obvious way), I'd live in Hamilton, where I'd belong to the city's "professional class" (doctor, lawyer, architect, teacher, etc.), and have a good job. I'd be married and have a couple of kids, and would be a solid member of the United Church of Canada. I'd vote Conservative, and would politely minimize my dealings with people who weren't WASPs.

  3. Play the cards you were dealt? What else can you play? I think you should find the game or make up rules where your hand is the winning one. (Winning as defined by you, not everyone else who doesn't live your life) Lil, you seem to perceive you're losing...I ask why do you interpret your environment this way? Change the rules... For instance, take the following as an occasion of organismic joy: Everyday I can read a new blog entry from you, I'm winning. Sincerely, A Fan ;)