Growing up, I spent a lot of time at Geauga Lake Amusement Park. We lived close by, so each year we would get season passes. I loved the rides, but really loved the games. One game from the arcade that really sticks out in my memory is Whac-A-Mole. Most of you will remember this… a game that has five holes, from which little plastic moles pop up randomly. You hold a large, soft, black mallet. The object is to slam the moles back down into the hole with that mallet as they pop up, before they go back down into the hole.
Like most arcade games, it starts slowly, with the moles popping up one at a time–slow enough for most people to be able to strike each mole. As the game progresses, the moles pop up faster and faster, and sink back into the holes quicker. Eventually, multiple moles pop up at the same time, making it harder and harder to strike them all. Your score is based on how many total moles you were able to strike.
I hadn’t thought about Whac-A-Mole for decades, but when I saw the game recently, I couldn’t help but think about it being a great metaphor for life. Doesn’t it feel like your daily responsibilities are like those little moles? One pops up, you strike at it. If you’re lucky, you whack it. Ahhh… problem solved. Then up pops another mole. Whack! You strike that one.
Isn’t that life? You knock down one problem, and a second one is right there needing your attention. And then there’s another… and another… and another.
A big problem us humans have is that we think we shouldn’t have these problems. So, we get discouraged when these “moles” pop up. Often times, we are even surprised, as if we think life is going to be problem and responsibility free. At what point do we stop being surprised? At what point do we realize that this is life… a never ending popping up of moles… over and over again.
Most people get frustrated with those ongoing responsibilities and problems. They see the mole and get disgusted. They spend a great deal of time complaining about the mole. Why do I have to do this? Why is this so hard? Why me? They go through each day with a poor attitude, feeling angry and defeated.
Many just give up. They lose interest in even trying to keep up. Instead of making an effort, they retreat. They do the bare minimum, doing just enough to keep their jobs, maintain their families, and pay their bills. They feel defeated, see things as unfair, and their enthusiasm about life fizzles.
There is a third category of people. This group sees things much differently. They treat it like the game that it is. The moles are going to keep popping up, so they commit to whacking as many as possible. They know that once they knock one down, another is coming. So what? Bring it on! How many moles can I whack? And how fast can I whack them? If life is going to throw these challenges at me like a game, then let’s treat it like a game. Instead of frustration and anger, let’s go at it with enthusiasm and excitement. Instead of being overwhelmed, let’s look it like a challenge to be overcome. And instead of being continuously surprised that these moles continue to pop up no matter how many we whack down, let’s know that they will continue to come as long as we live.
The actual Whac-A-Mole game is a lot like life in even more ways. As the game progresses, the moles pop up faster, and become harder to hit. Eventually, more than one mole pops up at a time, which requires you to decide which one to strike, as it becomes impossible to hit both. And finally, there comes a point where you simply cannot keep up, doing your best to hit what moles you can, leaving the ones you can’t to retreat back into the hole. Sound a bit like your life? More problems? Bigger problems? Too many problems and responsibilities to keep up with?
There’s a great quote from author Hal Elrod… “The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life.”
This is life. A never-ending supply of things to get done. Join that third group, and make it a game. Take it on as a challenge. Do your best. Whack as many moles as you can, do your best, don’t fret over the ones you missed, and have fun trying. Don’t get beat down. It isn’t worth it. At the end of the day, all you need to know is that you did your best. And tomorrow, a whole new set of moles will be popping up. So, get ready. Get excited. Pick up that mallet… and start whacking!