At some point in all of our childhoods we were sitting at a party and received the invitation to play ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’. Of course we declined, even casually said we weren’t any good at it. But as the pressure mounted, we caved in and donned the blindfold. Back then we had no responsibilities and life was all a big game. We enjoyed our friends and seemed to cruise through life.
The reality is, times have changed. As we grew so did our priorities. We went from splurging in malls to being concerned about 401k earnings. Our carefree party mentality has given way to careful family budgets and savings. My how different we are from when we could take the time to play a game.
‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ has long been a staple in children’s birthday parties for decades. No one really knows who is credited for its creation but just the other day I was struck with the thoughts of it. As I sat reminiscing about my childhood and that game, I began to notice some striking similarities to how we do life. Here are some of my thoughts:
• Life is going to spin you around: If you’ve spent more than 2 weeks living you already know that it doesn’t take long for life to send you a whirlwind of issues. I marvel at people who seem surprised or caught off guard when things go wrong. It’s just a part of life and the sooner you embrace that the sooner you can move on. Life happens, and it’s no one’s fault.
• Even in the noise, listen for direction: If you recall the game, once you’ve been thoroughly spun, you are released to find the ‘Donkey’. As you grope about, it is the voice of your friends that tell you which way to go. It is ironic that in the midst of all of life’s noise, if we’re listening, there is the voice of friends leading us. Unfortunately, we get so caught up in the noise we miss the direction.
• When you know you’re close, Stick It!: How many times have you carried the burden of regret? Looking back you see all the opportunities you left on the table and wish for the ability to go back. We live in a society that frowns upon exploration. Everyone is obsessed with playing it safe. I say, when you get within arm’s reach of your dreams, stick it! Go at it with both hands and don’t take no for an answer.
With little ones of my own, I have hosted parties and watched a new generation discover the simplicity of ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’. I laugh inside as I remember all the fun times I had with friends. Now as I look back, I can appreciate the lessons I walked away with from such a simple kid’s game.