Friday, July 18, 2014

A Real Cool Hand

Life's mysteries start to reveal themselves when you discuss "Cool Hand Luke." It just happens that way. Maybe because Paul Newman was a bad ass. Maybe because one of the all-time great movies is just packed full of an attitude that most of us could use a whole lot more of.

The title scene of the movie, Newman and some other inmates are playing poker. The betting is getting high. People are folding rather than chancing losing. Newman keeps going all in. Wins the hand. When he shows his cards, he had nothing. He bluffed his way through it. His friend calls him out for having nothing. Newman pops a beer and says one of the greatest lines ever spoken on screen:

"Sometimes nothin' is a real cool hand."

I have heard folks complain about the hand, the cards life dealt them. Not third world country poor folks, not homeless folks, but folks who have things in their lives that some would kill for. But more to the point, it's not about the cards you were dealt, but how you play them; what you do with them.

If life is a poker game (and not a box of chocolates) and you get crap cards and fold right off, then you have no one to blame but yourself. Play them for everything you can. Because you know what? Maybe the person with the best hand is afraid to lose, afraid to play it. It's not the cards, it's the attitude. It's what you do with what you've got.

And that got me to thinking, about the cards we are dealt, Life cards. Maybe that's God as dealer's big joke. Maybe we are all dealt EXACTLY the same hand of cards. And we all walk around with them close to the vest, letting only ourselves see them. When if we play them, we learn we don't lose. These are meta cards people, you're not playing for the cash in your wallet.

Newman's attitude in Cool Hand Luke made being in prison an adventure for him and those around him. He didn't mope around and go into a funk. He ate 50 eggs. He boxed the biggest dude there and wouldn't quit. He won a poker game with a nothing hand.

What if we brought more of that attitude to our own lives? What if we had the stones/balls/guts to play our hand to the fullest? We could learn a bit from Lucas Jackson. Play your cards, whatever they are, and what they are likely won't matter. It's in the playing.

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