I remember it well. The childhood game where seven children in the class are chosen to go to the front of the room. On the directive, “Heads down thumbs up”, the seven students travel around the room, one by one touching the thumb of one of their classmates and returning to the front of the room. When all seven are back in their places the invitation, “Heads up, seven up” is issued and those seven students whose thumbs where chosen get to stand and try to guess who picked them. If guessed accurately, they replace their classmate at the front of the room and then enjoy the privilege of getting to “touch a thumb” during the next round. If not, the chosen student remains in their seat for another round. In this game, as in many such childhood games, there are the choosers, the chosen and those on the sidelines.
As a teacher, I am amazed at how much kids still really enjoy this game. As an adult, I am intrigued with the parallels which exist between this childhood game and life, particularly the life of those who find themselves, for whatever reason, single after 40.
In Heads Up, Seven Up there are the choosers, the chosen and those who get sidelined. The choosers in life, as in this childhood game, have the most fun or so it seems. They are up front, making choices, determining by their decisions who gets to play and who does not. The chosen, are given an opportunity to get in the game, but if they don’t make an effective choice, a perceptive determination, they remain as chosen or worse, they can be sidelined during the next round of play. The sideliners are those un-chosen ones deemed by their peers as those who will not participate during a round of play.
During the dating process, we all play each of these parts. We can be the chooser, determining who we will select or who we won’t. We invite some to play and sideline others. We are confident. We are in control. We are choosing and shaping our destinies. Most of us like this place.
There are times in our lives, however, when the choices of others sideline us. The partner who goes back on a commitment, the infidelity of a spouse, the unreliability or abandonment of the person you planned to spend the rest of your life with but who ended up choosing someone or something else instead of you. Being served divorce papers, the death of a spouse, the pain of that precious connection going silent without explanation or, worse, just fizzling. At these times, we find ourselves sidelined, inactive, unable to play, maybe by our own choice…for a time. Often because of the choices of others or another who simply did not choose us.
Love and Relationship is one game everyone wants to play. It is the one game that we all want to be involved in either as the chooser or the chosen. We all dread the sidelines in the game of Love and Relationship. We want someone to touch our emotional thumb and say, “I pick you!” We want someone to tell us they noticed us. They noticed those things about us that make us special. They appreciated those unique qualities in us enough to want to be around us and interact with us more often than not. We want the opportunity to choose and be chosen. When the words “Heads up, seven up” are called in the game of love we all hope we get to stand at least during one round of play. We hope our guess is right and that we can aptly match the feel of the touch to the owner of the hand.
None of us like the sideline position where we simply watch others play the game that we so deeply desire to be part of ourselves. This sideline position can be a healthy respite for a time, as we heal from an especially disappointing round of play, but as a permanent state of existence it is simply not ideal. For some it is even painful.
Just as in the game Heads Up! Seven Up! everyone eventually gets to play at least once, so it seems is the case for most people in The Game Of Love. How long each of us play or how often varies, but it seems that at one time or another we all get the chance to stand on cue and take a whack at making a choice.
Where are you these days?
- Are you in the place of choosing?
- Are you there with your head down and your thumb up, hoping you will be tapped for the next romantic encounter?
- Have you by your choice or the choices of others been sidelined?
- Where are you? How do you feel about it?
- If you don’t like your current place in the game, what, if anything, will you do to place yourself so that you are happier with your level of participation?