The Game of Learning Through Life

July 9, 2017

With a fierce determination in your heart,
You decide it’s time to take on the adventure.
You look in the mirror and flex your biceps.
Ok, just look in the mirror and tell yourself
“I’ve Got This!”
(Well, you can flex if you’d like. I would.)

There is a world of people counting on you–
Needing you to begin the quest.
Will it be tough?
Will you meet opposition?
Might you stumble and fall?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
Want to challenge the status quo?
Want to make a difference?
Want to strive for greatness?
Just tell the bystanders,
“You can either join me on this journey, or you can sit back and enjoy the show!”
Let the game begin!

As you step on the scene, all seems eerie and quiet.
You know not the end; is there an end?
Even if you were to reach an end, it then becomes the beginning.
You’re the game designer.
You call the shots.

Doors all around,
Which to choose?
Right? Left? Those in between?
So many choices.
You make a choice.
Middle right.
The sides of your cheeks begin to turn up toward your ears,
and you fight the urge to jump up and down like a small child.
It’s a breakthrough!
A chance to share your unique ideas with the world.
It’s the magic star that gives you an extra boost of energy and invigoration.
Power Up!

As you continue along life’s journey,
You meet another crossroad.
Multiple Avenues,
Ten, maybe twelve.
Oh, my!
Which path to choose?
The choice is made.
The ninth road from the left.
It’s a dark alley. Soundless. Creepy. Isolated.
Doubt begins to sink in your heart and mind.
A startling sound shakes you.
It’s an unexpected visit from an influential being.
At that moment, you lay your heart on the line.
Expose all vulnerability,
And wait for their blessing, their approval, the go-ahead.
Instead, you hear, “You’re just not good enough. You’re not ready.”
A villain? Possibly. 
Knocked down but not out.
The dust clouds your face as you hit the ground.
Tears meet the dirt and form clay clots on your cheeks.
Bent but not broken.
Learn from this advice.
One person’s opinion doesn’t define you.
Get up! Brush off.

The game isn’t over; it’s an adventure with no end.
Turn around,
Go back to the fork in the road.
All of the routes ahead beckon you to make a choice.
Your heart is racing.
Some curvy,
Some straight,
Some bumpy,
Some mountainous and others flat.
Which way?
Afraid of another letdown and considering going back to the last success.
You already conquered that. What’s the point?

For what?
Opportunities will not land in your lap when you are standing still.
Muster up the gumption and make a choice.
No one ever said this game was easy.
Challenges lead to meaningful accomplishments.
How bad do you want it?
Commit and GO!
Your heart threatens to burst out of your chest.
But, your mind takes over, and
You commit to a choice.
Bumpy terrain with mountains–
Sweat is dripping from your brow, and you feel completely exhausted, but an intense strength from within propels you forward.
This path turns out to be an opportunity to fulfill your current dream.
Power Up!
Chase it!
When achieved, dream bigger. Keep dreaming.

As long as there is breath in your body, there’s no end to this game.
You’re the game designer.
Keep powering up.
Keep learning through opposition.
You have one life to live.
Be adventurous.
Be courageous.
Others are counting on you.
For what are you waiting?
Play the Game.
Learn Through Life.

Thanks to Carrie Baughcum for the beautiful SketchNote! #GratitudeSnaps

Recently, I had the honor to attend #ISTE17 and truly had the most amazing EDUtime. Honestly, #ISTE17 is now a new life landmark for me. It was a “Power UP” moment in my game of life. (Side note: To me, “Power Up” means the little star you find in a video game that gives you insane strength and energy to go fast and do crazy amazing jumps/moves. Just so you know the TMM-definition.) I’ll NEVER forget my incredible experiences that week. Thank you to all who supported me while presenting my first #BookSnaps Ignite session on that big stage; I still smile to the ears when I think of that moment. I could go on and on about all of the EDUawesome PLN peeps I met there, but if I did, this post might become a small book. However, I want to share the inspiration for the poem above. 

When I arrived at #ISTE17, I met my dear friend Tisha Richmond (for the first time face to face) and her #xplap crew for brunch. I’m fairly certain Tisha and I are soul sisters–no doubt. But, this team…I tear up thinking about them. They are incredible on many levels; it was an instant “welcome to our family” feeling. However, I was definitely feeling a tad out-of-place. I’m not a gamer, and now I have to admit to Michael that I’ve never read his book, Explore Like a Pirate. I told myself I’d just let him know that gaming is just not my thing, but I would totally promote the idea for gamer-educators. During our conversation, my new-found friend, Nick Davis, said, “You don’t have to know the end to begin. That’s the amazing part about it. You’re the game designer. Tailor it to your students.” Genius!

The more I thought about this statement, the more I realized–that’s LIFE! That’s what keeps us waking up and trying again the next day. Life is always an adventure; we know not the end. Sometimes we Power Up. Sometimes we are knocked down. Sometimes we’re knocked out. No matter the quest, an innovator’s inner explorer can’t stop–can’t settle. There’s always a new twist and a new turn to keep us guessing. I love the Game of Learning Through Life; it intrigues me! 

So, why wouldn’t we want to incorporate gaming in the classroom for our students? They’d likely LOVE it! 

What about for adult learners? I’m all over this!  

Thank you, Michael MateraTisha Richmond, Nick Davis, Adam Bold, Jon Spike, Carrie Baughcum, and Heather Marrs for helping shape a new mindset.

Gaming IS LIFE! 

*Side Note: Learning Through Life is the “L” in R.E.A.L.

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  • Nisha Jain July 21, 2017 at 1:57 am

    really a great post. thank you so mu`ch for sharing this with us. i really enjoyed it. thanks again. 🙂

    • Tara M Martin July 21, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      You’re so welcome. 🙂