Rarajipari – the Game of Life

“You never know how hard it will be. You never know when it will end. You can’t control it, you can only adjust. And no-one gets through it on their own.”
Angel Nava Lopez, Tarahumura school teacher

Rarajipari is a game played by the Tarahumura tribe of Mexico, brought to the world’s attention by Christopher McDougall in his fantastic book, ‘Born To Run’.

The game is played by two teams, with a wooden ball about the size of a tennis ball. One team kicks the ball, then all the players chase it, continually kicking and chasing until they have covered the agreed upon difference. The team in control of the ball at the finish line are declared the winners. A short game might cover 4-5 miles, but the serious inter-village games go on all night, and might cover 30 or 40 miles of mountainous terrain.

The game requires skill, stamina, patience, quick-thinking and teamwork, so it is easy to see why the Tarahumura call it ‘the game of life’ … to me, the most important element is the teamwork. Partly for the obvious reasons – that it’s a good and useful thing to learn how to co-operate and work together …

But partly for a very different reason – playing Rarjipari on your own would be, well, largely pointless. Chasing a wooden ball through the mountains alone wouldn’t make much sense – in fact, it would almost be a bit silly. It’s only when other people are added to the game that it starts to gain any meaning … and this is the same in life. Without other people around you to share experiences with, the things we do are largely pointless. The biggest example of this from my own life was when I went to Grand Canyon on my own … standing at the edge of one of nature’s greatest spectacles, but not having anyone there to share that moment with made it largely meaningless.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t moments in our lives when we need to be by ourselves and alone with our thoughts, but it’s only when other people are around that our lives – life itself, even – begins to have purpose.

Life is an adventure, but always remember – no-one gets through it on their own.

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