By Chic Hollis – Philosophical Musings
Or “Players,” the word that Shakespeare chose which refers to both the theater and life. But in the vernacular of modern casino regulars, a “player” is a “gambler” who bets on the come in Black Jack, Craps, and Roulette. The astute, observant playwright was correct in what he predicted for all players and gamblers: “They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”
Each “part” provides a player with the opportunity to gamble about: 1.) what he is going to do, 2.) where he is going to live, 3.) for whom are he is going to work, 4.) with whom he is going to live, and 5.) what kind of lifestyle will fit with the consequences of his other decisions. How daring a gambler becomes depends exclusively on his ability to ignore risks.
In high school, students are given a broad, elementary introduction to the subjects pedagogues believe adolescents should be exposed to. These classes are not an adequate preparation for the 30% who drop out of our city high schools and the graduates who do not pursue a college education. Practical training comes later on the job, if you can qualify for one today.
In college I dabbled in symphonic band, marching band, and dance band music. As principal in the percussion section during my last three years at the University of Michigan, the Symphony Band performed in Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, and Philadelphia’s Academy of Music.
I also studied Russian with one of the granddaughters of Leo Tolstoy, graduated as a distinguished member of the Air Force ROTC, and second in my class in the School of Business Administration. Upon graduation I went to work for a manufacturing company that gave me a scholarship for my senior year, General Electric. That was a gamble that opened my eyes to the reality of corporate life.
College life didn’t prepare me for adult life in the “real” world. But who is prepared? The scrambling began in Syracuse, NY. That move was the first change of locations that eventually numbered 18 when I retired eleven years ago. Those locations were outside of North America in Africa, Europe, and South America and included living in 7 countries with 4 wives. For two positions in the U.S. I was also responsible for a subsidiary’s work in Canada and Mexico. Every change was a gamble. Every new job included a challenge to fix something or improve the performance of my team.
From a start as a Personnel Officer in the USAF, I became an accountant, a supervisor in accounting, budgets, and “data processing” as it used to be called, a controller, a director of finance, a deputy managing director, a managing director, a group vice president, and finally a chief operating officer. After my tour of duty in the USAF, I worked for eight different companies and spent 20 years directly involved with overseas activities.
Every change offered me an opportunity to move ahead of the competition. I had five children born in five different countries. One son died a couple of days after a he was born as a result of a “difficult delivery.” Apparently our son was too large for natural childbirth. A gamble his mother and I lost! But the “forward march” drum beat never stops. The competition never waits for anyone to get smart, to get healthy, to mourn a son, and to get a move on.
You place your bets every time you venture out of bed, take a breath, sit down to eat, take a drink, leave your domicile, get in your car, enter your place of business, and smile at someone. What are the odds that you will return home in one piece, still healthy, and with some money in your wallet or purse? How was your performance today? Did you accomplish something important? Was the boss pleased? Are you eager to return to the rat race tomorrow?
If you believe the ubiquitous scare-mongers in the media, the air is more polluted every day, the water more contaminated, certain food items more suspect, the number of calories consumed questionable, your stress level likely to be elevated, your unknown cholesterol level worrisome, and the economy hardly recovering. From certain aspects, modern life is more dangerous than it used to be, but better that it was in the jungle or on the savanna.
How does anyone learn to gamble sensibly and cautiously? Do many people accept the fact that gamblers often fail? Buy a ticket to the lottery and see for yourself. But don’t go to a casino and bet every last dollar! It’s still a cruel world out there, and the part many young folks are tempted to play: dodging a bullet, racing a car, taking drugs, or signing up for some exotic adventure can end their lives. But a person can’t avoid taking chances and placing bets each day. It’s what humans are required to do just like all the other creatures that share this planet with us.
So, live and be well! Enjoy those companions who are accompanying you on your mission to pursue happiness and avoid an “early” death. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Pay your taxes, and thumb you nose at adversity and danger. Good luck at whatever gaming table you choose to bet your money and your life!