Wednesday 2 November 2022

You can only play the cards you have

The things that I watch

I am a fan of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that anytime I light up my Amazon Fire Stick 4K*, I log on to YouTube and catch the most recent episodes that were recorded within the last 24 hours. The kind of insight and commentary he brings to the issues of the day usually has me applauding from my sofa in awe.

One section of his monologues that intrigues me is the lead-in to his Meanwhile polemics, it is made up of two counterintuitive deliveries almost nonsensical yet quite studied, I have myself wishing I could write like that. Then again, talk shows have writers, so these are more a confluence of crazy ideas than the individual genius of one, though the innovation itself might just be that of one person. What do I know?

The cards you’re dealt

Anyway, in another segment that gets played every few weeks, a guest is invited to participate in the Stephen Colbert Questionert, a series of 15 questions that presume to give a better knowledge of the person being interviewed. On this occasion, it was James Taylor who for the last question, Describe the rest of your life in five words, answered, “Play the cards I’m dealt.”

Now, I am not a card player, I only barely know anything about hands in poker even as I have if I remember correctly written code to randomly deal cards to present a winning poker hand, 2-Pair, Royal Flush, 4 of a kind, that sort of thing. I doubt I would ever have the proficiency to play cards for money and not that I would countenance that level of folly.

Any fool’s poker

However, I understand a few principles around the game, when cards are dealt, you cannot choose what you get, that’s just luck or fate, depending on how you view things. When the betting starts, reviewers might suggest the hand you have has more chance of winning the pot than the other person. Then other cards are put on the table, so that between the 3 you have in your hand and the 2 that end up on the table, you come to a decision, on who has the better hand.

Forgive my amateurish descriptions. Sometimes, you’ll fold because you do not think you have a chance, maybe you can raise the ante because you are surer about what you have got, then, there is a bluffing where you suggest you have the best hand and dare the other person to call your bluff, beyond the basic skill, it becomes a game of wits. Someone with the right kind of resolve can win over a good hand and this happens.

Fundamentally, whichever way the game goes, you can only play what you have got, never what you wish you had. Then even if you had everything in line but your bluff was not up to standard, the game might end early without you getting others to commit more to the pot for a bigger win. Let me exit the stage left at this point.

You can only play what you have

In life, we analogously in a card game where by fortitude, destiny, luck, fate, or blessing, we are dealt an experience of life that we have to live to the best of the capabilities and possibilities we possess. Nothing is perfect and even the perfect goes awry. We are left with having to live life as we find it and make the best of it to the squander or the prosper, then it could just be average and that in itself may not essentially be bad, just do your bit.

We can daydream and wish we were living another life, get into a transponder and be translated into that alternate universe where all those dreams are living realities in the midst of the same faces and issues of life. A good hand in a bad setting of a paltry pot for the winnings. You begin to realise the futility of it all, for no matter the number of infinite universes we might visit, the same human issues will exist. We might as well stick with the universe we know rather than the one we are introduced to as newly arrived foreigners in a strange land.

This is not against the march of progress, we can do a lot with what we have, we can have dreams, live with hope and march towards the realisation with purpose and determination. We can only do that with what we have rather than what we wish for. And so, I could well understand what James Taylor meant by “Play the cards I’m dealt.”, for life whichever way you live it or refuse to live it would always be, what you make it. And from the music, according to Leon Patillo, ‘all of your dreams can come true.’

Blog - The bird in hand is all you have

* All my media content is now delivered through this device to my Smart TV, I switched off my TiVo device over 2 months ago because it was just consuming electricity, the device allows me to download all the apps I need to watch everything I am interested in.

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