When I was small, I used to love to play the game snakes and ladders. One minute I’d be flying up ladders. And the next moment, by the luck of the dice, come unexpectedly crashing down the slippery back of a long, long snake, landing right back where I began.
With no siblings, sometimes I’d get the board, dice and counters out and just run the game through on my own. Of course, then I had the freedom to daydream and imagine how I could reach the dizzy heights of the top row of the board. Up and up the ladders I went, dodging the snakes until my bright red counter landed on the final square marked 100.
How often in life do we wish we were sitting in square 100 in our life, having avoided all the snakes; the difficult situations, the disappointments, the constraints of family, money, skills or circumstance? Or imagining wordlessly that our circumstances were different and could effortlessly fly up the ladders to get to square 100?
When we daydream about missing the snakes in life or finding endless ladders we could climb, we live in a fantasy world of if only
if only I hadn’t made that choice
if only I wasn’t with this person
If only I’d learned these skills, finished this course, not taken that advice and so on endlessly.
Our if onlys are the illusion of all the snakes we would have effortlessly avoided, or ladders effortlessly climbed, if only we hadn’t chosen to do something different in the past. The problem is, our if onlys take us nowhere and rob us of energy. They send us down every imaginable cul-de-sac and leave us frustrated and resentful.
Real life is not square 100.
The only place to live our life of snakes and ladders is from is Square One.
Square One is where we are right now.
It is where we live.
It depends on the wider needs of our families and friends.
It includes our abilities.
It’s determined by what be like and dislike, believe or don’t believe about who we are.
It is the soil where we are planted right now, right here.
Square One contains the resources we have at present, the problems we face, the opportunities, gifts and insight for us to have. It is where circumstances have placed us today and it’s the place to step forward from.
If you want to live a purposeful life, take some time to explore your Square One as part of your journey to become who you really are.