I overheard a gentleman having a heated conversation on his cellphone as I stood next to him on the street corner waiting for a taxi yesterday. He was, apparently, upset about losing money in an investment he had made, and referred to the cutthroat “zero-sum game” of economics, and, thusly, the “zero-sum game” of life, before shouting at the person on the other end of the line and nearly chucking his phone across the street.
It was hard to shake the gentleman’s conversation from my mind as we continued to wait for open cabs to come forth. It was the first time that I had heard the term “zero-sum game”—the notion that one person’s gain is another person’s subsequent loss—used explicitly to describe life. However, as I looked around at nearby storefronts and billboards, I realized that the notion’s sentiment could be found woven into the lexicon that our society has chosen to use for advertising, athletics, beauty, real estate, and so many other industries which capitalize on competition. Even the ubiquitous scarcity tactic used by advertisers calling for people to “buy now while supplies last” spreads the unsettling notion that one person’s gain equals another’s loss.
In the ultimate illustrative irony, an open cab finally slowed to a stop in front of Mr. Phone-Rage and me. Still miffed from his earlier phone call, he huffed, “God, FINALLY...Oh—I suppose you want this one—“ I stood there on my crutches watching him seethe with impatience, and waved the open cab over to him. Taken aback by my acquiescence, he replied, “Are you sure?? I mean, good luck finding another at this time of day!” He scurried into his rusty chariot and barked orders at the cabbie, then gave me a pitied look of disbelief as he pulled away. Even though I was standing outside in frigid cold, cobbled by crutches on a post-op knee, far from my home on the other side of the city, I smiled, reassured by my deep knowing that life is definitely not a zero-sum game.
It may seem as though Mr. Phone-Rage’s having scored a cab depleted my chances of finding an available one, but instead, it just revealed the beauty and ingenuity of our world and the people in it. For, there were so many more options to get me home, swirling in the ether around me at the time, than I had even understood; options beyond Uber, bus, train or shuttle. In fact, the option that ended up choosing me—of which I never would have thought, on which I never could have planned—rolled right up to the curb in front of me, stopped, and lowered its window.
Inside the beautiful, brand new, more-than-big-enough-for-crutches-and-a-gimpy-knee SUV, was a friend of mine whom I had not seen in months, on his way...to my side of town. Ridiculously, proving the brilliant synchronicity, endless potential and purposeful choreography of the universe; further proving what unexpected orchestrations can surprise us, if we dare to keep an open mind, an open heart, an eager spirit. There was no way to plan on the absolute absurdity of that scenario unfolding the way that it had. However, the rebound made by my heart away from Mr. Phone-Rage’s zero-sum notion and towards the belief that there is enough for all, cracked the universe’s can of infinite possibilities wide open. My dear, chivalrous friend happily made room for my gimpy limb, and we got an incredible, spontaneous opportunity to catch up whilst being driven across the city. Creativity, ingenuity, opportunity...they all exist, eradicating the limiting belief that one person’s gain could somehow be another person’s loss.
We live in an abundant world where grass doesn’t strain to grow, where cells don’t strain to regenerate, and where our collective, collaborative consciousness doesn’t cease to find new, brilliant ways to play with our time spent on earth. For, where there is the contrast of supposed scarcity, there is the desire to solve its detrimental effects. What we deem to be “problems” are actually our finest opportunities for an engineering mind to unleash its creative solution, its inventive expression. And this beautiful symbiosis of contrast/desire, of problem/solution allows for consummate expansion of our world, ultimate growth, true progress. All of which makes our life experience, and the relationships wherein, the most exciting part of our earthly journey.
...All it takes is a choice to connect our hearts, and open our minds to the brilliant potential this world reveals in every moment of every day. I dare you to choose...
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]