We’re all following a path of some kind or other. Maybe it’s a parent’s path or a mentor’s path. Until we aren’t. Then we’re creating a new path. Blazing a new trail as it were. Others may have crossed the area and you may pass over their footsteps, but really it’s all new to you.
There’s a quote from Ecclesiastes about nothing new under the sun. That was written somewhere around 300 BCE. Seriously?! It would have been great for that author to be transported to the modern day. Electricity, cell phones, airplanes, so much as happened in 2000 years. People are still people though, so the writer may comment on that.
Here’s the thing though, each time out we are choosing paths based on what we know. What went before us. Everything is new to us! I feel like the anti-Phil in Groundhog Day! I feel a need to explore and create and learn. Each moment is a new moment of possibility!
This effectively means that each moment can be a new and different path. There are a lot of the same experiences on either path, though in doing so, learning to engage those experiences can itself create a new path.
Thinking about this therapeutically, I spend time each day with clients and in doing so I ask them about where they want to be. Hopefully something specific, because from there I can help them engage their pathfinding abilities and start them down a healthy path.
So often starting on a path can be terrifying for folks. It’s easier for them to point out what they do not want. In identifying the paths they do not want, it still leaves such a huge number of choices. Process of elimination does not work very well that way. It would be like picking up a copy of Love Letter (8 unique cards) but trying to use all of the Door cards from Munchkin (95 with a few duplicates), dealing one to each player and then trying to guess which card of a multitude each player has.
The point though is that eliminating a handful of options does not effectively narrow down a path, rather it creates a situation where the client and the therapist are both frustrated with the process. Instead, engaging the client in selecting a singular path with as much detail as is feasible will help to inform both the client and therapist about how to proceed.
Picking a path can be terrifying though, especially when it is all wide open. I like to use Tsuro in cases like this. The board is completely empty and as players start placing tiles and moving themselves along, that is when things start to get interesting. It is extremely rare to play your first tile and send yourself off the play space. Each time a new tile is picked, the route becomes longer and more winding, but also more satisfying. The tiles indicate where the player has been on their journey, seeing those steps can provide insight into what they have been through.
Engaging the future is more the plan than engaging the past. Seeing those options shrink, especially in Tsuro can be alarming. How do you make sense of all of it? This can be a helpful time for the therapist to engage with the client on the possible options from that point. The narrowing down, the steps, the process forward.
Making your way down a new path is an interesting proposition. The excitement that accompanies it may also be the flip side of dread. Embracing both of these though, that is the thrill with what is possible. I personally like that feeling, knowing that I can take those steps, take that opportunity to not only self-reflect about the past and the next step but also to see the opportunity as just that.
The fear portion as seen as possibly falling from a height, like skydiving. Though, reframing that fear is key. Changing the notion of fear. Fear is the supposition of the mind that discomfort may follow. As we are want to avoid discomfort, that is where we learn though. Where we grow. Comfort offers just that, a place to feel padded, secured. Discomfort is the change, the opportunity.
I reference trying sushi for the first time. That can be a huge jump outside of a comfort zone for a lot of people. Maybe it’s something to ease into. Start with familiar ingredients, go for the crab, cream cheese, and avocado roll. All familiar things in a new package. Taking clients to that point, giving them familiar with a shift.
For this I present an activity that may be familiar, but also provide an element of shift. Growing up I loved Dr Mario (Nintendo) and fancied ways to create a Dr Mario-esque board game. Below you will find the rules and player sheets for a game I call Pharma Logical! Thank you Steven Aramini for the name suggestion.
Pharma Logical is a game about encountering adversity in a small space and determining the timing for creating a path. Do you wait and hold out for more symbols or do you jump in for a quick score. I hope you enjoy the game and as always, thank you for reading.
Pharma Logical ^
A roll and write about healing what ails you!
Sheet play space is 8 high x 4 wide grid
Set up: ^
Place the sheet in front of you so that opening of the jar printed on the page face away from you. Grab a pen. Roll 2 dice, place a Square at their intersection, then do the same for a Circle, then a triangle. If a symbol would be placed where there already is a symbol reroll dice until symbol can be placed. These symbols may start at the bottom or be placed throughout the sheet, mark an S in each of these symbols to indicate they are the starting spaces.
Playing the game: ^
You must take 1 of 2 actions:
- Roll 2 dice, then form a pair of symbols to place in the jar each turn. You will now draw the 2 symbols orthogonally adjacent to each other. The symbols must be played from the bottom of the sheet up or may be placed on top of an already drawn symbols including starting symbols.
- 1 or 2: draw a square
- 3 or 4: draw a circle
- 5 or 6: draw a triangle
2. Draw 1 line connecting orthogonally adjacent symbols that match (not diagonal). You may connect as many symbols as you want, but be aware that you may not add onto your line at all nor may you cross over that line.
Scoring your lines: after drawing a line, you will now mark the appropriate box on your score sheet. Lines must be 3 or more spaces long.
- 3 spaces: 1st line 3pts, 2nd line 2pts, 3rd line 1pt,
- 4 spaces: 1st line 4pts, 2nd line 2pts, 3rd line 1pt,
- 5 spaces: 1st line 5pts, 2nd line 2pts, 3rd line 1pt,
- 6 spaces: 1st line 6pts, 2nd line 2pts, 3rd line 1pt,
- 7+spaces: 1st line 7pts, 2nd line 3pts, 3rd line 2pts
Begin a new round above after the players have completed their action.
Game end: ^
The game ends in one of the following ways:
– Completely filled in the top row of the Bottle
– All of the spaces of a scoring line are checked
– One of each line scored
– No space to place a pair of dice.
You will now draw any lines possible connecting matching symbols and mark those scores.
Add up total score based on number of lines.