What can Alice’s curious croquet match teach us?
Most of us have been in situations where we have had to adapt to new and challenging circumstances.
We can say the same for Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, an 1865 English novel by Lewis Carrol, when she faces the Queen of Heart’s version of croquet.
While she had encountered many curious creatures and wacky situations, she never imagined she’d have trouble playing croquet.
But when the Queen of Hearts, the main antagonist, introduces Alice to the peculiar version of the game played in that world, she struggles to adjust.
The uneven ground, the live hedgehogs as balls, and the live flamingos as mallets, not to mention the ever-changing arches (known today as hoops) made of playing cards, made the game quite a challenge.
In the end, Alice came out victorious. What can we learn from her experience, especially as we navigate life’s difficulties? Let’s explore.
Messages in Alice’s croquet challenge
First, let’s talk about the terrain.
Alice found the croquet ground in Wonderland extremely ridged, uneven, and unpredictable.
Every time she tried to aim for a particular arch or hoop, the ground would tilt or move, making it almost impossible to hit her target.
She also encountered strange creatures and plants that would pop up unexpectedly, adding to the chaos.
Doesn’t that sound like life sometimes?
We may have a plan or goal in mind, but the terrain of life can change in a flash.
The financial market may dip, health issues may arise, or family situations may shift.
Like Alice, we need to stay alert, flexible, and resourceful. We may need to change our plans or find alternative paths to our goals, but as long as we keep moving forward, we can still succeed.
Second, let’s talk about the equipment.
Alice was surprised to find that the croquet balls were actually live hedgehogs, and the mallets were live flamingos.
She had to learn how to handle these unconventional tools and adjust her technique accordingly.
Our lives may also throw us some unexpected tools or challenges.
- We may have to learn how to manage our finances with new investments or rules.
- We may have to adapt to new technologies or industries if we want to keep working or volunteering.
- We may have to find new hobbies or passions to fill our days.
Whatever it is, we need to keep an open mind and be willing to learn.
With practice and patience, we can become adept at using what we have.
Third, let’s talk about the rules.
The Queen of Hearts, as we know, was notorious for changing the rules of the game as she pleased.
Alice found this frustrating and unfair, but she also learned to be strategic and creative in her gameplay.
She used the unpredictable nature of the game to her advantage, anticipating the Queen’s next move and finding loopholes in the rules.
Our worlds may also come with unwritten or shifting rules.
- We may have to navigate changing social expectations or cultural norms.
- We may have to balance our own desires with the needs or expectations of our family or friends.
- We may have to negotiate new roles or relationships in volunteer work or community organizations.
Again, like Alice, we need to be strategic, adaptable, and creative. We may not always agree with the rules, but we can still succeed within them.
Fourth and last, let’s talk about the arches (known today as hoops).
Various playing cards, which had a mind of their own (literally) formed the arches in Wonderland.
They would move, shrink, grow, or disappear at a whim, making it difficult for Alice and the other players to hit their targets.
But Alice soon realized that she didn’t have to hit the arches directly.
She could aim for nearby objects or creatures that would trigger the cards to move or adjust, creating a new opening for her.
Life may also present us with moving or disappearing arches.
- We may have to redefine what success means to us.
- We may have to let go of some goals or expectations that are no longer workable or fulfilling.
- We may have to embrace new opportunities or challenges that we didn’t consider before.
Like Alice, we need to be creative, flexible, and willing to try different approaches. We may not always hit the bullseye, but we can still work towards our goals.
Alice’s croquet challenge may seem like a silly or whimsical story, but it contains valuable lessons for us as we navigate our lives.
- We need to stay alert and flexible in the face of changing terrains, equipment, and rules.
- We need to be curious and willing to learn new things.
- We need to be strategic and creative in our gameplay, using all the resources at our disposal. And,
- We need to be adaptable and open-minded, finding new ways to hit our targets even when the arches move or disappear.
With these lessons in mind, we can play the game of life with confidence and joy. Who knows, we may even shout “Off with their heads!” at some point (figuratively, of course).
Want to find out about playing croquet in Australia?
Visit the Australian Croquet Association website and follow the links to find a club near you.