Monday 8 April 2013

Chutes & Ladders as Metaphor for Life and Creative Practice by Jodi Crane

Life is a journey goes the ole cliché.  But is it true.  The ups and down, hills and valleys, mountains and molehills, the curves and straightaways, summer and winter, darkness and light.

A few weeks ago I bought a Chutes & Ladders game.  I couldn’t believe that as a family with a 13-
year-old and 7-year-old we didn’t already own it.  I have happy memories of playing it as a child.

According to Wikipedia, this game has its history in other games that attempted to teach morality lessons of virtue and good deeds.  For me, this game could be a metaphor for life.  I’m not saying that life is a game.  However, throughout our lives there are both positive and negatives surprises.  The ladders are rewarding as they move us farther along our paths to reach our goals and dreams.  But these same ladders involve some effort and work or we would fall down them.  The chutes (slides) represent the rough times that seem to move us backward.  On the game board, though, young children enjoy moving their game piece down the slide, at least until they discover they are losing.  For us, the rough patches can have positive consequences if we take the time to learn from these experiences. 

Eventually, we call make it to the end of the game unless we choose to stop before we reach our destination.  In Chutes & Ladders there are winners and losers that are only determined by staying in the game and experiencing either good or bad luck.  This is where this metaphor falls short since life isn’t that simple.

For me there is a rhythm to life.  A rhythm to the seasons.  Creative practice then becomes a way for me to 1) keep moving along and not drop out of the game, 2) have the strength and courage to move up the ladders, 3) deal with the negative thoughts and feelings associated with the chutes, and most importantly, 4) enjoy the ride.  This most precious life.

Jodi Crane is a counseling professor, play therapist, creative, mom, and blogger. Find her at


  1. I definitely agree that life is filled with ups and downs. I have also found that it is so much easier to get through the rough times if I continue to look for that silver lining. It is there if I have the patience to look for it.

  2. Quite interesting that here in the UK the game is called 'snakes' and ladders.
    And I am reminded also that the serpent is an old symbol of the Great Goddess.
    And that's how my full up mind is working today.
    Enjoy the game :)

  3. Thanks for reminding me that children enjoy the slide down the ladder. Maybe the true winners are those that stay in the game and find a way to enjoy the slide down - children instinctively know that it will be fun unless we introduce the idea of winners and losers.

  4. ooookkkkaaayyyy buddyyy idc

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