"It Fizzles"

Originally published at: https://pbg.geektherapy.com/2020/01/26/it-fizzles/

Internally I find myself always wanting to win, and sometimes I want to win at all costs. Often this can tug at my morals and standards. Let me start off by saying that I do not like cheating and I do not allow myself to cheat even if it pains me to lose. However, when teaching a game it’s easy to overlook certain things in the spirit of teaching or stretch the rules to give allowances to those who are not yet accustomed to the rules yet. At times I allow myself to fall into that pit when I forget rules in times where I’m extremely hampered by the situations I have created for myself by teaching the game and forgetting small nuances that “must be followed”. During this group, I came face to face with this very thing which I discovered is very frustrating for me.

“IT FIZZLES,” he says as I’m sitting here gazing at the cards before me. “You didn’t say it in a wizard voice,” a youth says to me after I read my spell. (this is a stipulation to the game which I forgot to do) “yeah yeah yeah, I spaced it. No big deal I’ll make sure I do it next time” I say. “No, IT FIZZLES” he bellows again in his best wizard voice. “That is a clearly defined rule in the game that if you do not resite your spell in your best wizard voice then your spell fizzles.” (when you spell “FIZZLES” it is not allowed to be played) “seriously”, I say feeling dejected as everyone in groups waits to see how I’m going to react to my impending doom. After a short discussion with this youth who is clearly not budging on this ever so important rule, I reluctantly accept defeat. My spell fizzles and what was going to be a dynamite spell is laid to rest as nothing more than flavor text and jibberish on what is already a depressing game table.

My attempt to subvert the rules in name of teaching the game was hampered by the very thing that I hold most important in-group. In a moment where I should have been most proud of the the the individuals in my “Table Top Group” I could not help but feel frustrated. You see I hold the youth in my group to a high standard in regards to honesty and integrity. In a setting like this (youth prison) where these things are not very prevalent, I ask that guys hold themselves and others accountable. Unfortunately, I am no exception. That being said, my spell was disallowed and my overwhelming look and feeling of disappointment were not lost on these young men. As you can imagine these young men heckled me as I tried to navigate my way around what I felt was a passable rule as I attempted to navigate playing and teaching the game simultaneously. Never the less it was not and because of that, I was defeated in the game and the youth who so adequately pointed out my fault continued on to victory as my hand, which would have essentially clinched a near victory for myself was defeated in such a disappointing and unrelenting fashion.

As I sit there in disappointment as my beautifully crafted spell “fizzled” into nonexistence I am forced to reflect on my own struggles and lagging skills. Why does this bother me so much, what was it about that rule that triggered me in such a way that I could not stop thinking about how dumb it was. I mean the whole game essentially is a silly “dumb” game. I mean the game itself is so much fun and silly. By no means is it a bad game, and rules are rules, but I could not shake this frustration I had. To this day I cannot put my finger on my frustration and where it stems from. I ask my guys all the time to try and place where their lagging skills come from and how they can relate these game outcomes to real-life situations, and yet I cannot seem to find the answers myself…..

Fortunately, I know that this is all part of the process. Self-discovery and the relentless search for answers you may not know yet is just one part of the journey. I think this is a great lesson not only for myself as a leader but as a person. It’ s a perfect opportunity to dig deeper and better understand myself. Often times I look “too far” inside of myself and assume most of my shortcomings or pitfalls are based on my rough upbringing, and often forget that life builds as you go. Not everything is a product of a sour past, sometimes they can be manufactured in the now. It’s important that I grant that grace to continue exploring without answers not only for myself but for others, and the youth I serve as well. Sometimes you don’t always need an answer and as the game goes, sometimes things just need to “fizzle”.