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Learning the Game of Life: A Story of Contentment in Every Outcome

Published: at 03:11 PM

Learning the Game of Life: A Story of Contentment in Every Outcome

As I reclined in our bamboo chair, an ensemble of fragrances wafted around our bamboo table, revolutionizing a simplistic afternoon into an aromatic banquet. The Bulalo, like a welcoming host, unfurled a tapestry of olfactory delights, first hitting me with the mouthwatering scent of simmering beef and inviting marrow. This dense aroma surrendered quickly to subservient undertones of spices and leafy greens, creating a harmony I’ve come to crave. Nestor and Nilo, my older friends and hosts of our afternoon rendezvous, were already indulging in their portions.

Amid the clatter of our spoons meeting bone, the stories began. Life lessons, each tidbit significant, passed down from older generations, seasoned by experience. A cherished tradition in our group.

Nestor took his hand from his bowl, wiped it clean, and gingerly reached into his pocket. Out came a deck of playing cards - worn, ink faded, but unmistakably a cherished artifact. “Life,” he began, “is much like a game of cards.”

He continued to explain the metaphor, carefully laying out cards on the wooden table, stray specks of rice bouncing off them. “The hands you’re dealt represent the circumstances you’re born into. You don’t get to choose them, much like our beginnings, but you do get to play them.” His eyes sparkled with a wisdom hardened by decades of victories and losses.

To the untrained eye, a deck of cards may seem trivial. But under Nestor’s weathered fingers, they were the code to understanding life’s complexities. “Knowing when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em… it’s a matter of judgment, of risk, and of courage,” he said, skillfully shuffling the deck. “Much like the decisions you make in life.”

Nestor’s words echoed the lyrical wisdom of Kenny Roger’s song “The Gambler” — a song the old man held dear. It spoke of accepting the hands of fate we’re dealt with, mastering the art of decision-making, appreciating the unknown, and understanding that every gamble ends in a win or a loss — not just in a game of cards, but a real game we all partake — Life.


A gulp of Bulalo broth cooled by the afternoon breeze brought me back to the game. Nestor handed me a hand of cards. “And above all, you never count your chips while you’re still at the table.” He gestured at his untouched bowl of Bulalo. “There’s a time for counting, and it isn’t now.”

As we finished our late lunch, the conversation became more philosophical. “Contentment,” Nilo murmured, his stoic face softening into a gentle smile, “is the greatest hand you can play in life.”

Inclining his head towards the window, he gestured at the looming lighthouse, its resolute beam cutting through the falling dusk. As we strolled to it, the conversation seamlessly transitioned from poignant reflections to mindless chatter. Yet, I couldn’t shake Nestor’s words from my head.

Approaching the crest of the hill, we saw the lighthouse in all its aged glory. Far from the bustling city, its beam swirled, each rotation led by a seasoned keeper, much like how Nestor shepherded us through life’s lessons.

“A hand of aces doesn’t guarantee you’ll leave the game rich, and a hand full of nothing doesn’t mean defeat,” Nestor spoke again, his voice deep and soothing, a melodic undertone to the rhythmic clanging of the lake against the rocks.

“Life doesn’t give us aces every hand, but it does grant opportunities to play those cards in our favor. It’s a game of decision-making, friend. Rushing leads to mistakes, and hesitation could cost victories.”


Thus, under the soft glow of the lighthouse, my game of Life took on a different perspective. I began to see past the thrill of the gamble, focusing instead on the strategy, the risks, the decision-making. I came to appreciate the notion that every hand could be a winner or a loser; it all depended on how you played it.

“Like gambling,” he concluded as we retraced our path home, the lighthouse shrinking behind us, “finding contentment in life requires strategy, risk, patience, and a little favor from Lady Luck. And above all, it requires embracing the journey, for at the end of the day, we don’t keep the chips we win— we keep the lessons that molded us.”

That afternoon, nestled amid the rhythmic strokes of the somber lake against the tranquil backdrop of the lighthouse, infused with the soft hum of advice resonating in my mind, I discovered wisdom not taught in classrooms—life wisdom.

Nestor and Nilo were more than friends. They were life’s seasoned gamblers who had turned their aces and foldings into pearls of wisdom that lit up my path, much like the lighthouse that had watched over many generations before us. Today, it wasn’t just of Bulalo that filled our bellies — but of wisdom that fed our souls.