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.
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