“Choose one player. They are now out of the round. They gain no gold and play no cards until their next turn.” I looked up from the card. Allison and Mark were beaming at me, while Chris looked on in horror. It was over. There was nothing he could do.
“Allison, you’re out.”
“Seriously? You really want to do that?”
“Wow,” Chris said, “I have no idea why you did that.” And that was the question that everyone wondered for the rest of the game. Why? Why would such a competitive player throw the game? But the truth was, in that moment, I didn’t need to win, I was content, and I wanted to be nice.
It started two weeks ago. I went to a party, thrown by a few friends, and attended by dozens of theirs. It was a challenge for me, more than once I considered leaving early, but little things kept me going: the way that someone I barely knew would pull me into a group photo, or how someone I’d only seen a handful of times would reach out and squeeze my arm as they walked by. Through all the unfamiliar faces, people I had often wished to connect with showed me that we already had, and I felt touched.
The following week featured a holiday, so I found myself with a few extra days, and I spent them writing. By week’s end I had spent 13 hours on writing, a personal first.
That Saturday I ended up playing capture the flag with old friends, and new ones, and fresh off my recent successes, I dove into the game with a passion, and found myself leading, not with commands, but with examples, and advice. I found that people I barely knew played with zeal, unless they thought someone might be hurt, then all thought of the game fled, and their only concern was helping another player back up. And again, I felt touched.
That evening a few of us gathered to play a few card games before calling it a night. There was one game in particular that I really wanted to play. It wasn’t popular, but I liked it. I’d tried time and time again, but always met with a polite “no thank you.” This time I was determined, and to my surprise many said yes. As I dealt out the cards, all 22 of them, I heard someone say “Hey, any interest in (game)?” and a reply of “Maybe later. Right now I just want to make this happen for him.” And once more, I felt touched.
Any one of these would be enough to put a smile on my face, but to experience so many small gestures in such a small span of time. I became content, content in ways I have not felt for a long time. Normally there is a great need in me, a need to prove myself, and though I continue to work diligently, I do so for the future, for that eventual time where I feel myself dip once more, and need some proof of my merit, but in this time, I am completely and wholeheartedly content, and for that I am very grateful.
Of course such a long winded explanation is far more than most want to hear, so when they asked me why I said, “Because I felt like it,” while silently thinking ‘I didn’t need to win, and I wanted to be nice.’