Marble Game

He spun the marbles clockwise in his palm, pushing each sphere along with the pads of his fingers. He placed the marbles one by one into the felt bag, feeling the smooth glass fall into the bag. He tightened the drawstring situated at the base of the opening and prisoned the chosen marbles. Behind him lay a clear container filled halfway with the other marbles. They had intricate designs: beautiful swoops and ribbons that twisted into tiny galaxies. Some were a gradient of colors, and some sparkled upon a touch of light. All of them were beautiful.

Unfortunately, they weren't the ones chosen. He had his own criteria. In the life of marbles, only the smoothest survive. It just happened to be, he thought, that the smoothest tended to have a single helix. A thin ribbon of color in the center of each marble. It didn't matter that many of the other marbles were smoother: much smoother. It didn't matter that many of the other marbles had much more interesting designs. He favored his marbles a certain way, and that's the way it was.

He grasped the felt bag lovingly. From the bottom he could feel the roundness of each individual marble, and he listened attentively to the steely clack each marble made upon meeting another. He held the bag by the top and gave it a small twirl, making the marbles within dance. A cacophony of sounds erupted from the bag. He gently tapped the bag twice on the table.



Reaching with his other hand, he teased the edges of the bag open, loosening the thin rope that held the bag together. His slender fingers sunk into the opening, wiggling to sense for the marbles. He gave the marbles a quick toss to disperse any sense of order and grabbed a couple. He cupped the selected few and belayed them through the opening and into the air. Smiling, he disposed the rest into another container. For another time, he thought.

His fingers still wrapped around the chosen marbles, he peered into his hand. The glass glistened against his eye reflecting back a set of beautiful globes. He placed them onto the serving tray one by one, placing each marble into the appropriate divot: wherever he felt they belonged. With the quick snap of the finger, he signaled his approval.

A butler came out immediately and brought them behind the door. He turned his head toward the big screen. Slowly, the scoreboard began to update. The screen housed a never ending list of names each accompanied by a number: each person's Score. In the game, a higher Score meant better perks. It meant better rewards. It meant success. As each second went by, Scores went up and down.

Laughing, he watched as a select few Scores increased quickly. These Scores corresponded to the marbles he had just chosen. All around the Game, these people received promotions, won lotteries, and achieved their smallest and biggest dreams. All without warning, without any need for repayment, and without any need for any extra work.

The other Marbles continued the Game without any knowledge of this momentous event. They continued their hard work, trusting in the Game and dream. To some, it looked like payment of hard work. To others, it seemed like a stroke of pure luck. They were unaware of what actually took place.

The drawings keep happening day after day. Only a few marbles are selected each time based on his ever changing tastes. Some Marbles receive repeated rewards. Some never receive any rewards. The Game continues without any thought. Each day smooth marbles are left in the bin and rougher marbles are taken. Each day each marble works to make themselves smoother. All for the chance of getting chosen.

We are always in a constant state of motion. Every action and every thought has to align with moving forward. We are constantly thinking of "what to do next"—"what action will bring me closer to where I want to be". It's a never ending cycle.

Most people believe that people can get ahead if they're willing to work hard.1 It's instilled into us in our school system, in our value systems. To get ahead means to put in the work. Without the hard work, there is no success.

But life's a little more tricky than that. We are thrown into a situation into which we have no control over. We spawn with a certain set of parents, a certain set of surroundings, and a certain set of cultures. All of these influence how we will be brought up into the world and measured in our society.

In a sense, there is a general view of what "society" (or what seems to be the "majority of people" in whatever society you are in) views as good and bad. Each person is measured against this, and we constantly have in our minds the thought of how we will be judged among other people. This often leads us to pursue careers and goals that are not entirely "ours": ones that we might have not chosen ourselves.

In some ways it's necessary: one doesn't want to be a starving artist. But, it's also tragic in many ways. The blooming artist doesn't get to choose what they love to do. The young college student struggles between choosing what seems best by majority standards and what is best for her. What society views is good often has truth: it is often good for some positive reason. That's what makes it difficult.

But I digress. We work day after day toward goals that we may or may not want. We look around and see people gaining new titles and new careers. We look at our own state and decide to work harder. We want new titles and new careers as well.

Rejection after rejection comes. You begin to wonder what you are doing wrong as all your peers are getting promotion after promotion. You begin to work tirelessly harder toward the goal that you are feeling tired of, but with a passion to prove that the scales are still aligned, that hard work still pays off. But it doesn't come and you are left wondering what you did wrong.

Life's seemingly unfair in many ways. It's tragic, and we make it that way with how we view the world. If we had no thoughts and no consciousness, there would be no tragedy and no story.

In the ever continuing climb, we forget that luck is a real thing. Hard work is no guarantee of success. There are so many factors out of our control. While hard work can bring success, we have to remember that hard work can also bring nothing. Doing nothing can also bring success.

Thus is the game of life.

  1. [1] Pew Research Center