When Surviving Becomes a Game in Life

Survivor. When I mention the word, what thought comes to mind? Gloria Gainer’s song, I Will Survive? Breast cancer survivor? Or do you to think Jeff Probst? In our household, Survivor only means one thing. Eleven years, and twenty two seasons—along with names like Boston Rob, Russell, Jerri, Johnny Fairplay, and Parvati. Our family has scheduled our lives around watching the show with our best friends each week since the inception of Survivor. Jeff Probt’s dimples and receding hairline are as much a part of our lives as eating and brushing our teeth. There is always a little bit of sadness when a season comes to an end, an ultimate Survivor is named for the season and we have to wait until the new season begins months later. (And I wonder if my husband will apply again to be one of the castaways)

This season was no different for our family, but the questions asked after Rob Mariano was announced as the sole Survivor were different than previous seasons. It seemed this season, perhaps more than others, the producers focused on the friendships and bonds that are created when strangers are thrown into survival mode together for 40 days. Were the strangers different in personality this year or did the producers allow us to see what they’ve seen all along—whether you are playing a game on the field, on the court, or at a table, people are fragile individuals who are real people not just actors in a show. When a football player goes out on the field to play a game, is his attitude different than the individuals who are dropped in the middle of nowhere with strangers to play a game of survival? Should we fault players who have won Survivor by lying, cheating, blind-siding or stabbing allies in the back in an attempt to win a million dollars? It is a game, right?

Boston Rob declared he had spend 117 days physically playing Survivor and 10 years of his life masterminding how to win the game—perhaps even at the expense of his relationship with his wife, Amber, and his daughters. He also stated he went into the game with the attitude that he would do whatever it took to win the money for his family—there were no lines drawn in the sand for him. I wonder how Rob’s wife, Amber, felt about Rob snuggling up to two of the young women in an attempt to gain their loyalty?

Rob’s plan worked. Rob even blind-sided Grant, with whom he had a bond, as Jeff Probst intuitively noticed “like none other he’s seen over the years.” Yet Grant, even as a former NFL competitor didn’t look at Survivor as a game but as an opportunity—and being back stabbed was personal. Finally, everyone else thought Phillip was crazy, yet Rob saw something in Phillip no one else saw and befriended him. But, was befriending Phillip all a part of his mastermind plan or was he sincere in his friendship? I don’t have the answer to the questions—I guess for me it causes me to take a look at my life…at myself.

Now that Rob has won, what will he do now? Does he have integrity in ‘real life?’ What happens when someone ultimately is able to accomplish a major goal in their life? Will his life all of the sudden change for the better? Will the longing for something bigger in his life subside? Only time will tell. The bigger question for me is personal—I need to worry about me and not about everyone else. I need to be treating others as I desire to be treated not as I am treated. Only I am responsible for my behavior—not anyone else. What about you? Are you at a place in your life where the longing in your heart is being filled?

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