A few years ago, someone said to me that they thought life was a bit like playing chess-- you know the rules, and you have to think a few moves ahead. I replied that I'd often thought life was rather more like Mao
. In case you don't know Mao, it's a card game where nobody's allowed to explain the rules, so the first few times you play you'll lose spectacularly; after you begin to work out the rules, you may discover that there's a standard way for people to create new rules, but because of the prohibition on explaining the rules, the other players will have not only to notice that a new rule has been introduced, but also to work out what it is by induction. This somewhat parallels my experience of life-- everyone seems to have seen the rulebook except me.
Well, the other night I had a dream. I was at a party where everyone else was playing a game a bit like Mao, but instead of using playing cards, everything was on index cards: when you introduced a new rule, you had to create new cards to go along with it. And I was confused and disorientated and disheartened, just as in my metaphor for life.
But then a card turned up in my hand which had clearly been circulating for a while. It was in a familiar handwriting, and after a moment I recognised it as the stumbling form of my own handwriting I'd used when I was about eight or nine.
And this was the most encouraging dream I've had in a long while. I used to know how to play this game
. I knew once. I can learn again.