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Lessons from Air Hockey

A friend of mine had to take the girl she was babysitting to a birthday party and invited me to come along. So, I spent my Saturday afternoon at Chuck E Cheese with a sweet little group of kindergarteners.

I watched as two little girls giggled over a game of air hockey. Neither one really seemed to understand the rules, but it didn't much matter to them. They would use their hands to stop the puck and reposition it for a better shot. They would send their strikers flying across the table, laughing as they realized they hadn't been gripping them quite tight enough. I couldn't help but smile as I watched their five-year-old joy come pouring out.

After about a minute of play with no score, one of the girls finally managed to squeak one past her opponent. I half expected the girl that missed an easy block to burst into tears or, at least, to be mildly upset. But her reaction surprised me.

She looked up with more joy than ever and shouted, "Wow, that was a great shot!"

For the rest of the game, these little girls congratulated one another after every goal, never losing enthusiasm, never betraying an ounce of disappointment.

The score simply didn't matter.

As I watched, I wondered when I stopped enjoying the game. I wondered when I became so concerned with getting ahead. I wondered when everything turned into a competition.

Somewhere along the way, I got caught up in believing that what matters is being first, being best, being ahead.

But maybe I've been wrong.

After all, the score really doesn't matter. More often than not, there is no score at all- it is just something I've made up.

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