The greatest game of all: Life. Of course, there are different versions available depending on where you bought the game, where you’re playing, who you’re playing with, what language your rule book is in… the list goes on, but at the end of the day the structure is roughly the same across versions, just with different checkpoints and objectives perhaps. I shook up the checkpoints already by coming to Europe when I would be turning 21, but that is an almost imperceptible change (in specifically this vague thing that I’m talking about, which you may already have guessed at. Edinburgh is a very perceptible change. I’m having a great time, love you Mom), and anyways why stop there?
The guidebook comes with prescribed, formulaic checkpoints with appropriate procedures to do upon attaining the checkpoint. Ride a rock twenty one times around the sun? Celebrate with fermented beverages which wrap your mind in a warm, fuzzy blanket. Now these checkpoints are great and all; they wouldn’t be there to begin with if society didn’t think they were top notch.
However! The really great, beautiful, wondrous, phantasmagoric thing about this Board Game is: You can ditch the rule book whenever you want. You can make it your own game. Even more than that though, you’re only playing it once. You’re playing up against the wall with your cards all on the table, and that’s what makes the whole thing so poignant. What a rush! You can breathe significance into every. single. moment. Or you can go out for a coffee. It’s up to you! It is your game after all. Play it however you like, you threw the rule book away a couple of sentences ago.
With all of these thoughts whirling in mind, I thought of turning twenty one. And I thought of living my life. And I thought about a typical 21st birthday, and I could just about plan and picture the whole night. Well, where’s the surprise in that? So I flipped it. Something anti-alcohol. Something anti-drug and anti-sex. Something anti-violence. Something anti-American 21st. And that’s how I found myself on a train to Samye Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery.
Arriving was all I could hope, nestled in the hills before the highlands is a little taste of Tibet. The architecture is striking and unbelievable and beautifully out of place. The surrounding hills are stereotypical, magical Scotland. A breathtaking countryside with a powerful, rushing river (flooded from loads of rain) which flowed behind this monastery. And my being there is hilarious and wonderful and absolutely ridiculous, and I love it. I got to immerse myself in an ancient heritage, and I had a very wonderful chat with one of the monks who lived there. Expand your possibilities. Go out and defamiliarize your life every once in awhile, it’s good, clean fun.