Knowing When to Fold ’em

One summer when i was a kid, my parents decided to turn off the television for the entire summer. There was one exception (although in retrospect, I bet there was some secret Tv after our bedtimes), and that was on Sunday evenings) when my dad would plug the TV back in and the whole family would watch The Muppet Show.

My sister and I were pretty young, and mostly watched for the Muppets–I basically ignored the guest stars, who were just grown-ups. But occasionally one would make an impression on me, and one of these was Kenny Rogers, who sang “The Gambler.” I really fell in love with the chorus “you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” I didn’t have much idea what the lyrics meant at the time, and had no idea the words were so profound.

Because later I learned how to play poker, and you know what? It’s really fucking hard to know when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em.

And of course there’s the whole life metaphor thing. How do you know when you should be holding and when you should be folding? I struggle with this constantly. We’re supposed to hold on to our dreams, but we’re also told we “need to let go.” When is letting go actually giving up? And when is holding on just refusing to accept reality?

Food for thought while revisiting Kenny Roger’s performance with the Muppets. Things I had not remembered: That Kenny Roger hands the muppet a flask. And that the muppet DIES, before coming back as a ghost. Also, it hadn’t occurred to me how much Kenny resembles a muppet.

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