Somewhere, in a cosmic back room, there is an eight-sided game table, covered in Kelly green felt and trimmed in the finest rosewood. At the table are eight players, each resembling a Gahan Wilson character. Before each player is a set of complex controls, and small recesses for refreshments and gaming tokens.

Near the center of the table, the felt gives way to a curious sort of hologram. In it swirl the currents and backwaters of life. All of us are in there, living our existences for the pleasure of these caricturistic gamesmen.

The controls before each player allow them to control all of the factors of life except one: the reaction of the central character in the game. If the table in question is marked “Kermit”, then the star of the game is me. If your name is on the polished brass plaque, then you are the star.

The gamesmen take turns, probably counter-clockwise, in plotting situations and manipulating the controls so that those situations come about in our individual realities. Each player then places tokens before them, betting that they know your reaction to any given situation. Each has an endless supply of tokens. And an endless supply of situations.

Some of the players are sadistic. Others are fun-loving. There are scientists, specializing in group dynamics in groups of one. A few are simply morbidly curious. And there are gluttons, masochists, lovers, fighters, lawyers, Indian chiefs and all of the possible types of gamesmen. At regular intervals, the players rotate from table to table.

And thus are our life situations manipulated in strange and mysterious ways. The expected blends with the total surprise, the joy blends with grief. All that we can do is react in the way that suits our own sets of personal standards, without regard for the ebb and flow of the game being played in the back room.

We have no obligation to any of the players. We have an obligation only to ourselves and the situations around us. In the end, it is not the players that are judged by the owner of the casino. Nor is it us that are judged by the players. When the game is over, we are best qualified to judge ourselves. The very worst that we can do is disappoint ourselves.

And that is how it works. 

Kermit []