(The Game of?) Life

While I do enjoy the topic of political theory, I do sometimes like to splurge a little bit and enjoy some pop-culture. And while I do like music and film, my favorite aspect of pop-culture is comedy. If I have free time (which has become a rarity recently), I would spend hours searching the Internet looking for great comedians, and one of my favorites has to be the fluffy comedian Gabriel Iglesias. After watching one of his recent routines though, I noticed that his outlook on life is similar to that of the Grasshopper in The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia.

In The Grasshopper, there were two types of animals represented, the ants and the grasshopper, both of which lived very different lifestyles. The ants lived by working extremely hard almost all of their life, living for a fair amount of time compared to the Grasshopper. They thought that you must “work hard, lest you die when winter comes.” The grasshopper, however, lives the complete opposite way. The Grasshopper believed that life was just one elaborate game, that everything we do, even work, is a part of this elaborate game. And unlike the ants, the Grasshopper’s life is a very brief one. This view by the grasshopper seems to be shared by the comic Iglesias. His saying that “I don’t wanna die tomorrow knowing I could have had a cake tonight” shows his shared belief with the Grasshopper that life is meant to be enjoyed, not stressed over work among other things. But if your life is all a game, if you make your living through games, are you really playing anything? Think about it, sure certain athletes and public figures make a living doing the things they love like playing games, but if your “playing” is for survival, or to make a living, doesn’t that take away from the game itself? Take Derek Jeter for example. His illustrious career playing the game of baseball recently came to a close, and whenever he was interviewed about it, all he would say was “it’s been my job, I don’t know why you guys are thanking me.” He understood that while playing baseball is a game, it became his work. He couldn’t just sit back relax and all of a sudden turn it on as soon as he hit the diamond. He had to work year-round for twenty years getting in shape, staying in shape, working on mechanics, and improving (or at least maintain) his skill level just so that he could continue to play baseball at a high level. To me, that doesn’t sound like play, it sounds like work. Even with the example Iglesias uses in Steve Irwin, he too played a game (not a very conventional one) that allowed him to live a decent life. While he did love his profession, too become as successful as he did, required a tremendous amount of effort. For example, he needed to research and understand the behavior of different animals, gather a film crew, learn how to produce his own show , to name but a few of the areas he had to work on. All of the excess work that Irwin had to do to make a living took away from the “game” he was playing and made it more of a job.

Me? I believe there is a middle ground. One in which you can die happily knowing you had a great slice of cake, but also where you worked hard. Iglesias believes that life shouldn’t be measured by the years you lived, but how good those years were. But imagine how your life would measure up if you lived a long life because of your work, and actually enjoyed what you did? And along the way, stopped off for a piece of cake or two…


Polisci 101 Lecture Tools Slides

Suits, Bernard. The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia. Toronto: U of Toronto, 1978. Web.


2 thoughts on “(The Game of?) Life

  1. I can relate to Jeter on a much lower scale. Being a twelve sport athlete in high school, I can understand how playing a game doesn’t always feel like play. For example, at times when I would just want to play volleyball with my friends, I would have to follow the very strict structure and play with a bigger goal in mind than merely “play.” So does that really make it play? Secondly, I agree with your middle ground stance. In my opinion, this is the sort of “utopia” of the work/play debate. Those who can say they lived a long life loving their work and their accomplishments are very lucky!


  2. I agree with mostly everything and can also relate heavily. The one thing I want to say is the “play” aspect. I feel like it is definitely opinionated. To me, any kind of work towards a sport is play. “Work” to me is sitting behind a computer at a desk. When one is one the field enjoying what they love, it is play. For example, if I am doing tee work in the cage, that is showing I am trying to increase my skill and be a better player. It is physical work and practice but it is me practicing for a game. Whenever I am practicing hard and it gets tough, I always tell myself: “I could be behind a desk instead…” This lets me keep the fun in the game and try to push me to not get to the point where I do not have to “Work”. I will end it with a quote I am sure you have heard: “When you can wake up every morning and do what you love, it is not considered work.”


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