The two men, property tycoons, sat opposite each other at the table. Between the two of them they owned most of the real estate in the city. But it was not enough for either of them. No, each of them wanted it all for themselves, and they had become obsessed at achieving that goal.
They bought property from one another when there fortunes were up, and when they needed more cash flow, reluctantly sold property. They were relentless in their pursuit to outsmart the other. One thing was certain. The day would come when one would succeed in his greedy goal. The moment would come when one would fail and declare bankruptcy, to the joy of the other.
One sunny Wednesday afternoon that day finally came. They sat in their usual spot in central park for another round of negotiations. As they had done for the past three decades. It was on this day, after one more bad business deal, one final bad move, that one of the men realized he had lost everything. He had been outsmarted, and he would have to give up his final hotel property to cover his losses. He handed over the last of his property to his old rival, and with a bitter look, told his opponent that he had won. He had defeated him.
At first the other man sat there rejoicing. Thirty years work, and now he had done it. He was the victor. He owned all the property in the city! But then he became quiet, and his rival also. He sat there and contemplated what had just happened. Something he was not quite prepared for.
In winning everything he had focused so hard on winning, he did something else he never wanted to do. He had ended the Game. By ending it, he was suddenly forced to admit that was all it was, just a Game.
Some of the other regulars in the park looked on at this significant moment with great interest. The two men sat as still as statues, their eyes downcast upon their monopoly board. Neither saying a word.
Over the years and decades they had both lost their jobs, their families, their homes and their dignity in their obsession with their Game. The worse of all, they lost their grip on reality, and over the years actually came to believe the game was reality. They enjoyed their passionate pursuits, thinking they were real pursuits, real business dealings.
People had often tried to wake them up, to force them to quit the Game, but they were so deep into it, so focused, they just dismissed their voices. No, they were not playing a Game, they were trying to win the city, and they were close to doing it! That’s what they both thought. Whenever anyone tried to show them they were losing their lives by living in their Game, they just ignored it. They were happy in their reality. They were winning the whole city. They were significant business men. They were like kings. They were important. And then – the Game ended.
Slowly, the man who had won began to weep. He looked at the board, and realized it was all just a game. He thought about his family he had lost, how long ago? Years? Decades? He thought about his life, the life he had missed out on because he had become so obsessed with the Game.
Then he shook his head, stop his crying and gazed over at his opponent.
“You know Frances,” he said. “You’re the best business man I know. In this city, there’s no better opponent than you. I’ll tell you what . . .” he picked up a few hotels from his pile and handed them across the table. “Consider this a gift. Now, let’s see if you can rebuild your empire.”
His opponent’s countenance suddenly changed, and color returned to his cheeks. “Rodger, you truly are an upstanding tycoon. A true gentleman. But be warned, I’m still committed to owning this entire city.”
The spark in Rodger’s homeless eyes began to sparkle once again, “I expect nothing less, my old revival. Now, pass by Go, collect your $200, and let us continue; we have a long day of business negotiations ahead of us.”
“Indeed we do. Indeed we do.”
As so they began playing again, suppressing the short realization they had wasted their entire lives playing a Game. They both focused intensely upon the board, counted their properties and planned out their strategies. This is not a Game, they both thought to themselves, No, this is the real world.