It’s How You Play the Hand

Maybe it’s just me…

But I don’t hide my cards very well.   I am NOT a good poker player.

Poker is very popular today.  I get frustrated because in poker, it is less about what the cards in your hand are.  It really isn’t about how you play your cards.  For a person to win in poker, it is about the “bluff”.   It is a game where, most times, it is about how you “bluff” your way into making other players believe you have a better or worse hand than they do.  Regardless what my cards are, it doesn’t take a seasoned poker player to know exactly what they are.  My facial expressions give me away every time.  In the seedy world of the poker world these are called “tells”.  My “tells” are so evident,  I do not even bother playing.

I recently watched a video called, The Last Lecture.  The Last Lecture is a collection of life’s lessons and reflections, by a man that was given the news that he only had a short time to live.  Doctors estimated that Randy Pausch had three to six months of good health remaining.

It is common practice for College Professors to give talks titled “The Last Lecture”, when they are retiring from teaching.  Professors are asked to ruminate on what matters most to them as a professor and as a human-being.  They are invited to talk about their lives and the life lessons.   Randy Pausch was given this opportunity when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This lecture became a video and has been transformed into a must read book.

This is a condensed version.  You can watch the original full version on this link.

I sat in my office at home and watched this video.  I was prepared for him to tell me about his sorrow and regret of missed things in his life.  Ironically enough, his presentation was more about living than dying.  He talked about the importance of overcoming obstacles, enabling the dreams of others, and seizing every moment, because in his case, life had to be squeezed into just a few short months. Ten cancerous tumors in his liver were not going to cheat him of even 10 minutes that he had left.

He was not looking for someone to feel sorry for him.  He was trying to encourage others to live life.  That was what he was doing…he wasn’t in denial, he knew that he did not have time to waste.  He did not want his wife, children and the people around him to live their life with regret.

Have you wondered what you would do if you KNEW that you only had a few more months to live?

I am sure you have…we all have.  It is very common thing to think about. The thing is…what would we REALLY do?

We all say… we  would gather our family and we would make sure they knew how much we loved them.  We would make sure that there would be nothing between us and that all issues that we lived with for years would be addressed and made sure that we could leave this world with no regrets.

Regrets…Did you know that regret is the only emotion that you never can change?  You can change happiness…you can change sadness.  Regret can never change.  It is what it is.  The hurt and sadness of a missed opportunity.  An opportunity that will never come around again.  Sometimes we can make some wrongs… right, but in reality the pain of regret stays with us forever.

Why do we wait until we have been given the “death” sentence from a doctor or wait until we receive a tragic phone call in the middle of the night before we think about these things?

  • What if you had only 30 days to live?
  • How would you live?
  • Who would you want to be with?
  • What would you like to say to them?
  • Where would you like to go?
  • What would you like to do?
  • Would you modify your weekly schedule to allow for more together time?
  • Would you still watch the same amount of television?
  • Would you still fret over the same tit-for-tat stuff, hold grudges or get bitter?
  • Would life’s little irritations even matter to you?
  • Would you talk to God more?
  • Would you admit that He existed?
  • Would you go to church more?
  • Would you spend your money differently?
  • Would you follow through with your good intentions?
  • Would you need to connect with a family member that you had distanced yourself from?
  • Is there an apology that you would need to make?
  • Is there a son that you need to call?
  • Is there a daughter that you need to hug?  .
  • Is there a parent you need to sit down with?
  • Is there an issue that you need to resolve?
  • Are there habits that you would give up?
  • Are there lifestyle changes that you would make?
  • Is there a letter that you would have to write?
  • Is there a task that you would need to do?

After reading Pausch’s brief book, I couldn’t help but think about what the last talk, post, or lecture that I would be able to give some day.  If I was given that chance…what would I say?  I sat in my office filled with shame.  I turned off the lights and sat in the dark.  I thought about the long list of regrets I have allowed to build up in my life.  Sitting in my office that night, I asked myself, “If I only had 30 days to live, what would you do and who would you do it with?”  If you will…my own personal bucket list…

There are things I cannot change.  There are things that I would never change.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” –Randy Pausch

I hope you play your cards well…

But then again maybe it’s just me…


One thought on “It’s How You Play the Hand

  1. I love this quote: There are no regrets, only lessons learned.

    I think all of us are too caught up in our day to day lives to realize why we are put on this earth. We should be living each day as it could be our last, yet most of us don’t.

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