Life Is A Midway Horse Racing Game?

The mechanical horses are all lined up at the starting line.

Every seat is filled as the roughly 1 dozen players practice rolling their balls up the chute, hoping to land them in the “3” hole.

“We are playing for a large prize this round!” shouts the game clerk.

After a few more practice attempts, the bell rings and things get real.

A few horses race out to a brilliant start, halfway across the board before some of the others even get off the starting line.

But those last place horses don’t give up. As for the leaders, only the foolish ones change their pace and work slower.

Nobody judges anybody else because the race is not over.

And by the time the winning horse crosses the finish line on the other side of the game stand, most players find themselves in a much different position than they were at the halfway point. Some early-stage slackers end up finishing at or near the top. Some of those who sprinted out to a big lead, never make it near the finish line.


There are many reasons. Sometimes a racer gets lucky or unlucky. Some racers just have more skills than others. Some have better strategies. Some develop skills or strategies as they go. Some do the opposite.

If any spectators are there judging the racers, they should hold their tongue until the end of the race.

Nevertheless, some rude and foolish people comment on the performances when the game is only half over. They judge that the 12-year-old boy “doesn’t know what he’s doing”, or that the old lady “must have played this game a lot” as she is way ahead.

Those comments may be true or not, but they’re always unwise to make. Because during the game, things are in process.

Why this whole bit on a simple, county fair and boardwalk amusement game?

Because it mimics the way many of us act in real life.

We judge other people too early. We put them in a box of being way ahead, or way behind, or highly successful, or terribly unsuccessful. We tend to make these comments as if they are permanent descriptors of the people we judge.

That’s our mistake. Because the “race” is never over. We have our whole lives to catch up or fall behind, to go fast or to pull up, to come from behind, or to blow a big lead.

We are always in a state of flux and don’t deserve to be judged by outsiders, who aren’t interested in seeing our whole story unfold .

In that same vein, we also don’t deserve to judge others, who are also in that same state of flux.

Think of somebody you know and think positively about. You probably think they “are” that way. Does that view of them make it harder for you to forgive, or accept them if they slip, make mistakes, and “blow their lead”?

Now call to mind somebody who has disappointed you or not lived up to expectations, in your view. Can you allow for the possibility that they will overcome and improve, or is your perception of them carved in stone?

We deal with all sorts of people every day in our lives. And we all owe each other the ability to work through our situations without being judged too permanently.

That kid who dropped out of college when you were a junior? Maybe you’re not as superior to them as you thought. The guy down the street who just got a new job with a six-figure salary? He may not have his life as together as much as it appears.

Sometimes, as in the horse racing game, our balls go down the “3” hole. Sometimes they hit the “1” or “2” spot. Other times they miss completely and roll backwards towards us.

Let’s be careful to treat each other with grace, forgiveness, and an open mind. Eventually, we can all meet up at the finish line.

Be sure to follow and subscribe to Wise & Shine for more stories and great posts from our team of writers. You can also follow Todd at his personal blog, Five O’Clock Shadow. For Todd’s musical activities, visit

15 thoughts on “Life Is A Midway Horse Racing Game?

  1. I really like how you said this, Todd: …”we all owe each other the ability to work through our situations without being judged too permanently.” Gosh, yes. Just as you said — striving for ‘grace, forgiveness and an open mind’. 😊

  2. My grandmother used to say comparison is the thief of joy. You never know what others face or what obstacles will get in our own way, but we still tend to make these crazy comparisons. Great message Todd. An important message for us all. “Let’s be careful to treat each other with grace, forgiveness, and an open mind. Eventually, we can all meet up at the finish line.” Thank you.

  3. What a beautiful post about our being too judgemental and the importance of not being like that. I think it’s a human tendency to see the other better or worse than us, but in most of the case when don’t know what’s behind others’ life.

  4. What a great post, Todd! I zeroed in on the same phrase Vicki did, “without being judged too permanently.” I have a great friend who always says for any statement he makes about anything, “But I could be wrong.” It seems when we know that things are always in flux, about ourselves, others and the world, we stay open to more possibilities. Beautiful reminder about grace, forgiveness and openness!

    1. Thanks Wynne! I have at times been sometimes victim and sometimes perpetrator of unfair, premature judgments on people 😕

  5. I love this lesson!

    I was unfairly judged by many people in my younger years and I’m happy to say, they were wrong about me, and my life is a testament to that. I’m also happy to say that if people were right about me in their judgements, I have changed and have proven those thoughts wrong!

    Either way, I’m happy with the outcome, that I didn’t keep believing the negative things they were saying about me and to me.

    I think each of us has experienced this to some extent or another. If any of us were unfairly or wrongly judged, I hope each of us will be able to release the memories and stop replaying those recordings in our minds!

    When we know we have been unfairly or wrongly judged, what can we do about it?

    How we live our lives is more important than anything else.

    If we choose to live our lives to follow our own beliefs, dreams and plans, we do more for ourselves that continuing to listen to those old tapes and trying to drown them out, possibly abusing substances, food, people or ourselves, because the pain gnaws at our brains.

    We need to let those things go, release them quietly, saying “You do not serve me well, you aren’t the truth I choose to live by”.

    We release those old lies to be able to give ourselves the permission and the freedom to just live our lives, however they turn out is okay!

    I’m putting this into a post by the way!

    1. Thanks Tamara! I’m glad you were able to overcome the naysayers 🤩 I was thinking as I was reading your comment “this would make a nice post”😁 I’ll look forward to reading it!😎

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