The Long Game

By Walt Williams


Poolside at the Fairmont and I’m thinking about the long game. The morning papers are filled with tales of conflicted leadership and bad political craziness. Obama trying to complete a last minute hail Mary of environmentalism and rational decisions (Really, there are no rules about injecting oil wastewater into central valley aquifers?!? Expelling Russian diplomats who infect our Democracy is a problem?)


While Trump tweets about Meryl Streep’s opinions and other short-term issues, reacting like a 15- year old being called a sissy. “Am not! Are too. Am not!! Are too.” We all know how this ends, not pretty, and when the health of the world is at stake it’s worth paying attention to.


The short game is easy, the short game is for the stupid, and we play the short game way too often. The short game is using, the long game is sustaining. The short game is fossil fuels; the long game is renewable energy. The short game is divorce; the long game is fighting and growing. The short game is a triple vanilla latte; the long game is an apple. The short game is working a minimum wage job; the long game is completing a PHD.


Yes, there is judgment in my tone, the short game is stupid, and the long game is smart. We are currently raising a generation of short gamers, reacting before thinking, spending as little energy as possible on deep thoughts. Have a problem-medicate it! This is America; we know how to make you feel good.


Creating, trying, failing, trying again, failing again, this is life; very few get it on the first try. If we’re lucky we have 80 years to figure this shit out, that’s a long time, that’s the long game.


Or not. The short game teachers want their students to get good grades; long gamers want their students to learn. Short gamers want TMZ video clips, long gamers read novels. ADD, phones, technology, and disconnection, all of it is making/has made us a short game society. We rarely think 10, 20, 30 years down the road because why? Today is what matters, right? Be mindful, live for now, YOLO MFer!


But tomorrow will happen, unless our new leader is such a short gamer that he combines his power, bullying tendencies, and massive stockpile of weapons to play the big hand. More likely we will spend four years moving closer to a world without elephants, and clean water and people who are civil and care for each other. Much less drastic but still very sad.


The only good thing about the short game is that it’s easy to change into the long game. Think deeper thoughts, have an empathetic worldview that includes all living things, stop pulling things out of the earth, (I would say to stop grabbing the earth by the pussy but my editor doesn’t like when I write like that). Hiring a climate change denier to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is like putting alcoholic uncle Bob in charge of the family bar. Shit will go south.


But enough doom, my pathological optimism says it’s time to further develop my long game then start making noise about the short games of others. There’s a great scene in “Collateral Beauty” when the character of Time tees off on Will Smith, “Time is a gift that you’re wasting by not moving on with your life.” As I say on the daily, it’s not about falling down; it’s about getting back up.


Yes, there will be some severe challenges in the next four years. Yes, you will wake up some mornings wondering how we got here (take a spa day at the Fairmont, you deserve it) but if you develop your long game and support those who do the same (politicians like Jared Huffman and Gavin Newsom, organizations like #stophatedumptrump) these four years will go by quickly and hopefully the long game will return.