The Bruce Springsteen song “Glory Days” captures our nostalgia for times when we were young and strong and successful in some extraordinary way. Any mention of those glory days is a poignant reminder of our current inability to recreate the magic of those moments.
If this is the case, we are stuck in a win and cannot adjust to the realities of our current existence because no matter how we frame it, our present career and life do not give us the admiration we received during our glory days.
A possible way to unstick ourselves from past glory days is to look at the games we choose to play during our lifetimes and see how one is replaced by the next. Life is a series of games, each with its own rules, teammates, goals and opponents. Sports are obvious games, but education is another game, and so is marriage, and so is a career. Some games last a long time and are played simultaneously and others are played intensively for a few years and give way to replacement games.
Games become important in school where winners get admiration and approval from others. Physical prowess gives a person an edge in almost all of the games that are played in school and the social rewards are significant.
Once we leave school, the games become more varied, and social skills and specialized knowledge become the keys to success and glory although there is still a place for athletes of extraordinary ability. The games we play involve larger teams and higher stakes and there is so much glory in winning that these games attract highly talented players.
One of the important things to learn is that you can always choose not to play a particular game. There are always alternate games with different playing fields, different rules, but which can still earn you the admiration you seek from being a winner in the game. Playing a game you are not suited for will usually end up in disappointment. Picking a game in which you have a natural advantage makes it more likely that you will succeed in garnering rewards and admiration.
You need to realize that most games require high levels of skill and stamina and that your participation in any game has a natural duration dependent on the level of mental and physical performance you can maintain. Thus, your game participation is finite and one should always be preparing for the next game to come.
The high school football player should be prepared for college football or to transition to professional studies. The high school cheerleader should be prepared for a similar transition to other games. In college, or work, or in a professional career there should always be an awareness that there will be another game following this one. If every game is played as a stepping stone to the next game, there is less chance of becoming stuck in your “glory days”
At some point you may even become a “maker of games” and create opportunities for others to have careers and interesting and productive lives. Once you attain this viewpoint, you are truly free of the constraints imposed when you play other people’s games. You are no longer a “PLAYER”, you become a “GAME MAKER” which is a higher order of game indeed.
You can enter this state of becoming a “game maker” at almost any age. You devise a game where others play and if you make it so your teammates keep winning, the game can grow to incredible proportions.
The final point to remember is that there is always another game coming up. Have a great time playing your present game, but be prepared to shift gears and get on with the new game when it presents itself.
Create an unending succession of glory days.