Shifting Sands #reflection

Shifting Sands

This is going to be a bit of a circle in thought today. To start off, I am not going to directly talk about where the thoughts come from. Instead I am going to jump into something that is more of an allegory of the thoughts and how things are a bit strange. Yeah, I get it, this is more of what you expect from the thoughts in my head than actually anything new or different.

So, to begin, where my mind goes when I think of shifting sands is some games by Gamewright Games. The one I own is Forbidden Island. This one is a cooperative game where you are working against a clock to collect treasures from an island before it sinks into the ocean forever. As you play, sections of the island disappear around you and you have less and less surface to search.

shifting sands

The other game by the same company is Forbidden Desert. In this one you have crashed your airship and you need to find the pieces to fix it before you are swallowed by a sandstorm. The desert like the island from the other game is changing as you play, and everything is moving around you. Both games are good examples of the idea of man vs nature in narrative.

I have Forbidden Island on my iPad as well as the physical game itself. It’s a fun one and at times it is a style of game that doesn’t let you feel too good about yourself as you are more likely to lose the game than you are to win. Some games are designed to keep you humble.

The only reason I bring them up is because of some thoughts I had over the weekend. The games make for perfect analogies for where my mind had gone when the words shifting sands had come into my head. And it all came back to my wife and I walking through one of the malls near our home. The mall is dying, reaching the point now where there is little left of it at this point.

But the thing is, I remember when this mall opened. It had to be at the end of the seventies or into the early eighties. New mall with an interesting design. It was graduated levels instead of different stories on top of each other like most malls. It has a sprawling feel to it. We were looking for the possibility of sales on Christmas presents (my wife likes to shop super early and she feels like she is behind right now). The last time we had been to this mall there had been a good number of stores with huge markdowns.

We knew at the time that it was in its death throws but to see stores had disappeared this time, it was a bit of culture shock. It isn’t the first time I had seen a mall die off or in the process of death. A few of them near our house had died out many years ago, some in the process of this one coming into life.

During our walk through, my mind drifted to other malls in the past that had suffered similar fates. Places of commerce change as the winds of opportunity shift to new locations.

There had been a mall in Carlsbad California, that I spent quite a bit of time at when I was in the Marines. It had a living sculpture at one end that stood the height of the two stories of the mall. An elaborate device that had the purpose of moving pool balls throughout its mechanism. I always thought of it as a better mouse trap. It had trapped a number of people through the years, transfixed by the visual bait. And then when I returned to that mall twenty years later, I found the husk of what had once been a bustling microcosm of life. The sculpture no longer worked as it had long ago. The pool balls in some areas had become trapped and no longer functioned as it had so long ago. By the look of it, it had been in a sorry state for far too long. No one cared anymore.

Much like the games I mentioned earlier, the adventurers had found what they came for and moved on. Often, they can be found in new places searching for and finding whatever it is they seek. It all continues as best it can until something else changes and the sands shift once again.


If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.

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