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August 02, 2018 Thursday 03:57:40 PM IST

We Can’t Change the Cards We Are Dealt Yet We Decide The Way We Play

Reflections

A sailor was shipwrecked and as luck would have it he immediately landed on an island where people welcomed him with open arms. They sang and danced in his honour and prepared a sumptuous banquet for him. On the very same day, the people of that island convened their council and declared him their king.

The sailor was awestruck with what was happening to him. He thanked God for this unexpected turn of events which brought him so much joy and new-found self-respect. However, he was at a loss to understand why they chose him as their king. As the sailor took control of the island the islanders paid obeisance to the new king and were always there at his beck and call.

Soon he found out what was really happening. It was customary for thosepeople to choose as their king the first person who set foot on their island after a shipwreck. But they would allow him to rule over them only for a year. At the end of the year he would be expelled to a place called ‘King’s Island’ where there was neithervegetation nor provision for food ordrink. The ‘king’was bound to die a horrible death facing hunger and thirst.

When the sailor found out the hidden agenda of the islanders he planned his steps intelligently. The fact that the islanders would give him total obedience and service for one year gave him confidence that he could get out of their trap by outsmarting them. Accordingly, he put together a plan for his own rescue.


As part of this plan, he ordered the islanders to build a few boats in no time that could be used for transportation of people as well as of goods. After the boats were built at a furiouspace he ordered them to go to King’s Island and start cultivating all kinds of grains and fruit trees after digging wells and canals for water supply. He further ordered them to build a palace with all sorts of amenities.

The islanders had no option but to obey the king’s commands. Everything was done as he had ordered and the King’s Island was totally transformed into a beautiful paradise from a barren outcrop of desolation. At the end of the year when the king was expelled to the King’s Island it was no more a dreaded place to live. On the contrary, it was alive with vegetation and animals and all kinds of birds. It became an ideal place for a king to spend the rest of his life.

This story is afigment of imagination rendered bySigmund Freud (1856-1939), the king of the Psychoanalytic School of Psychology. The story implies that unless we plan our life intelligently and work hard to face the different challenges in life we will meet with total failure.

According to French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778), “Each player must accept the cards life deals him; but once they are in hand, he alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.” In other words, we cannot change the cards we’re dealt, but we can always decide how we play the hand. What this means is by doing the best we can with what we are given we can always find success.


The sailor in Freud’s story was exceptionally smart. He knew that unless he acted quickly and intelligently he would be in serious trouble. Hence, he took immediate and proactive steps which helped him face the greatest challenge of his lifesuccessfully.

To succeed in life, we know how important it is to do our best in every area of our life. Nobody can find real success in studies without commitment and hard work. In the same way, no one will find genuine success in his job without working hard with enthusiasm and dedication. Also, nobody can develop a well-balanced personality and character without subjugating evil inclinations and rooting out bad habits. In fact, nobody can find happiness and success in this life and in the life to come without channeling one’s life in the right direction.

We know all these things and much more. However, many of us are often reluctant to tread the hard way which is the right way which brings us ultimate success and happiness. Instead we choose the easy way which is not exactly the right way, bringingupon ourselves nothing but failure and utter disappointment. As the British poet,William Arthur Dunkerley(1952-1941),who wrote under thepen name ‘John Oxenham’, said: “To every man there opens, a high way and a low; And everyman decides the way his soul shall go. The high soul treads the high way, and the low soul gropes the low.”

Our life consists of different stages like infancy, childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, adulthood, and old age. These stages in our life will pass like the flash of a lightning or like a star at dawn. So, it is important that we start thinking intelligently and acting smartly at the earliest like the sailor did in Freud’sstory.


Our life today should be a preparation for our life tomorrow. Tomorrow’s life should be a preparation for the life for the following day. If we can live a life preparing for our life for tomorrow it will be the best preparation for our life in the world to come. In that way we will be able to overcome successfully the final challenge in our life which is death. 

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