I am one of those guys that stopped listening to new music several years ago. To me, the best music ever recorded is from the late ’60s through about 1980. And, forgive me for this, but country music just never made sense to me.
But there are exceptions. Kenny Rogers hit “The Gambler” from 1978, always stuck with me. The song tells a story about a man on a train meeting another man known as simply The Gambler. I am sure many of you are singing it in your head right now. The Gambler sees a lot of what the man is not saying. He does it simply by reading his face. It is a very simple song really, but there are so many life lessons buried deep inside the song.
I grew up in a time long before “going to the boat” existed. There was the occasional card game where mostly older men played cards and bet on the winner. But, in my house growing up, it was not accepted in any form. I was always taught that gambling was not a good thing.
But, don’t we all gamble each day? Isn’t life itself a gamble?
The career path I chose lets me help people obtain homeownership. To most, this is a major life event, and it’s also one of those “should I, or shouldn’t I” moments. I have been asked several times over the years by the buyers if they are making a wise decision. I always want to say, “Don’t put that on me Rickey Bobby.” But I usually give them “That’s up to you” or “You had better be sure.”
But, just consider this. When you sign that mountain of papers for a home, you are saying that for 360 months, or 30 years, you are planning for your status to remain the same as it is right now. Your job status or your spouse’s will not change in a negative way and the economy that helps pay you will not change. All the criteria you used to qualify for the loan will remain the same for 30 years. Isn’t that a form of gambling? Who can say that nothing will change for that long and you can make the mortgage payments for the entire loan?
When you drive to church, the grocery or to work, aren’t you gambling a bit by hoping that the driver of car coming at you going 60 mph is not texting and will stay in their lane as they pass you? We may also tell ourselves that a $4 mask will keep us from getting COVID.
At your workplace, don’t you gamble that your boss makes strong financial decisions that keep the business open? Don’t you gamble that whoever oversees marketing keeps your workplace on top of everyone’s mind and the company stays strong so you can support your family?
What do we do when we run out of aces, when it seems that all efforts are exhausted and we have no moves left, we are faced with a choice? Do we hold ‘em, fold ‘em, walk away, or run? And, in a lot of cases, this never happens at the table, at least according to the song. We do not want anyone to see us sweat. I think most people do not like to admit that all our aces have been played and we’re just not sure what our next move is.
At the end of the day, we all must have a certain amount of trust in the game of life. The question is, where does that trust come from? Does it come from our ability to fix it? Does it come from our government? Does it come from whatever balance our checkbook shows? Do we put our trust in God that he will make it all work out in the end?
Life events happen and our job is to find a way to just deal with them. As the old saying goes. “Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.” Again, at times all we can control is our reaction.
But, on the flip side, bad things happen because of our bad choices. As much as we would like to blame others, it is all our fault. The consequences belong to us as well. Maybe we didn’t think it through, or we tried a shortcut that didn’t work, or we just didn’t think at all.
Or maybe you followed the rules and laws for that circumstance. We all have unwritten rules that we follow. Like them or not, and maybe we can’t even see them, but we all know they are there. Maybe this time it just didn’t work.
To sum it up, with so many things we have no control over the outcomes. But we can always minimize the bad things in life if we just follow the simple rules that have been in place for years. What are those rules? That is for you to figure out.
Like the gambler says: “If you’re gonna play the game, you had better learn to play it right.”
Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.