• Lauren Morris

My Life is a Board Game

There are so many ways we use language to express ourselves as part of the human condition. We have layers like an onion, maybe we aren’t buried but planted, and so on. Lately, I cannot help think my life is a game of Jumanji.

Tucked away in a dark, dusty corner of my mind the board game lay dormant. Buried and forgotten. Life marched forward. Years even decades came to pass. You weren’t searching for Jumanji, you were, however, searching for answers to some of the bigger questions we all face. Who are you? Why are you like this?

Rummaging around you hear the faint drumbeat as it calls out in the darkness. You follow the hollow sound as it grows louder. Thereupon your feet you see the corner of the box. You try to pull it free but it will not move so you began to dig. At first, you're excited to excavate. After all, this could have the answers you've been searching for. Exhaustion sets in because no matter how deep you delve answers aren't coming. Finally, you loosen the box from its captor. The box isn't adorned with decorative details. It's plain and doesn't even have a lock. It just sits there drumming. You can't help but think it holds your heart.

It’s impossible to resist the game of Jumanji. There’s a reason so many before you buried it though. It’s not safe. As you stare at this plain, unmarked box you can’t help wonder how many versions of you tried and failed at this game. Those parts of you vanishing in an attempt to protect you. You don’t know what you need protecting from if you don’t open the box.

Resigned, you sit down and begin. Upon opening it doesn’t seem so bad. Your first turn shows you a mix of the present and some images of the past. Maybe your other-selves were being dramatic. It’s what you’ve been told over and over by those who surround you.

You invite another player to join you in this game. You explain what you’ve discovered thinking they’ll concur about the lack of gravity to the game. You see on their face and hear in their words they do not. In fact, their words sound like yours right before you talked yourself out of how serious this game is to play. You brush it off. Games are fun right? Let’s take another turn.

Each turn, each flash of memory, body sensation, emotional response bigger, more catastrophic than the one before. You are confused. Why would this game turn on you? Who would even create something this horrific? In fact, you know the developers and it doesn’t make sense. How could people you trust and love, the same ones you’ve seen help others in their darkest hours, create something this abominable.

You want to stop the game. Jumanji doesn’t stop. It gets worse even if it isn’t dealt with head-on. You’re certain you don’t have the fortitude to continue. Clearly, the past versions of you didn’t and you understand now why they decided to let the chaos created from their attempts remain. It was easier to deal with what’s been played then continue forward to the dismay that lies ahead even with the possibility that the finish line means resolution.

So now you sit with the board game open and in play. You keep questioning your reactions, feelings, and decisions. The other player guides you even to take a turn for you from time to time. Ultimately, you have to finish alone. You are wounded. In pain. The game is asking too much of you. You don’t know if you’ll finish. You haven’t decided. You can’t help but wonder if this is what the game wants.

I know how Jumanji ends in the movies. Movies, books, stories, they all seem to conclude with hope, pretty bows, and a fairy-tale ending. This is real life and I’m unable to see any of those. For now, I sit with the dice in my hand, tears flowing down my face, feelings, and flashes of shame, and an unfinished game I never wanted to play.

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