The Surprising “Life Highlights” Game

At work, I try to keep things “interesting” by researching various topics and subjects during my short pockets of free time… performing search queries on Google that read something like:

“quality leadership skills”; “developing yourself”; “compassion in the workplace”; “prime rate explained”; “why CDs are better than savings accounts”; “autonomy and accountability”; “how to not burn out”; “how to be a better coworker”; and etc.

annnnnnnnd then writing short articles or posts that summarize them to share with others.

Well two weeks ago, I was perusing an article that offered tips on helping students (who converge in classes) break the ice with each other, and one tip – or idea – detailed the nature of a trust-inducing activity that the author referred to as the “life highlights” game.

Intrigued, I read on, and the game goes something like this:

Close your eyes and imagine the best moments of your life so far.  Personal experiences, professional achievements, remarkably grand or modestly quiet adventures… anything. Now — with a few ideas in mind, ask yourself which of these moments you would wish to relive if only thirty seconds in your life remained.

Holy shit, I thought silently. That’s deep. A little TOO deep for the opening moments of a class, I decided. The concept, I understood; share something meaningful about yourself with others and you’ll forge a bond of some kind with them… but still. Considering the environment that the sharing would take place in, this would be just a little too much.

But I couldn’t shake the question off for myself, unanswered. It poked at my shoulder; nudged me in the side; breathed right against my ear.

So I grabbed a pen, drew an itty bitty circle (aka a bullet point), and began my list:

  • the day I got married
  • the day I got divorced
  • my last morning cuddling with Bruster
  • holding Bruster’s dead body in a stranger’s driveway later that afternoon
  • happily leaving a college class on a Friday night with Chris; laughing in the car, pulling out my phone and realizing that I had ten missed calls from my mother, who never, ever calls me because she’s afraid she’s going to interrupt my very busy life; I called her back and she shared with me that my brother Bobby was irrevocably dead
  • exiting a Cracker Barrel with Chris one morning and pulling out my phone to discover a terrible email from my mother — one that announced the premature death of my favorite Siberian Husky, Zoie
  • flying over Colorado earlier this spring and realizing that the clouds off in the distance were actually mountains
  • overdosing on marijuana in said state (where marijuana is, as you likely know, legal, and where the economy is positively thriving because of it) and then blindly ambling “home” (to an Airbnb stranger’s couch) in a delirious and frightened state-of-mind
  • dancing under strobe lights with my best friend Charlie one winter evening (for the first time in my LIFE)
  • falling asleep with Chris (for the first time) on his parents’ couch; my eyes closed and my heart racing because of the simple fact that he was holding me closer and more sweetly than any other human being ever had
  • shaking as I wrote the last heart-wrenching paragraph of my first self-published novel, Jinx the Rabbit
  • the realization, at 16, that my devotion to learning notes and chords had enabled me to play an actual song on the guitar
  • watching Bobby have a seizure outside of the Greyhound bus station during a 4 AM layover — coaxing my confused brother onto the next bus and then traveling with him and a band of convicts across Florida’s state line
  • watching Melissa walk into the room when I was 12 and already knowing that I loved her
  • my German Shepherd, Tycho, sitting on the ground in front of me and leaning her head onto my shoulder (in what could only be called an embrace) earlier this month
  • the countless weeks, days, and hours spent on the couch at Urban Standard, or Saturn, or Red Cat… demystifying my soul and literally writing my blues away
  • salsa dancing with a seventy-year old gentleman in Denver
  • skinny dipping in the ocean in the early afternoon
  • foolishly riding my skateboard down a steep hill in North Carolina — my bearings shaking so badly that they threatened to throw me off the deck throughout the entire mentally excruciating descent
  • riding up Legion Field’s parking deck with my bike group last Thursday evening — music blaring, lights flashing, my heart beating faster than my bike’s wheels could roll and my lungs aching with each and every inhale
  • skeptically eating Indian food for the first time with Charlie nearly two years ago and thereby discovering my new favorite food


Two weeks ago, a close friend and I visited that same Indian restaurant together for a week day lunch. We talked about work, relationships, and television shows (I expressed my complete disgust over the fact that the graphic televised version of Handmaid’s Tale — a story rooted in the gross mistreatment of women — is trending everywhere), and then I casually mentioned the life highlights game to her.

I named a few of the moment “candidates” that had crossed my mind, and then shook my head at her from across the table. “What’s weird, and what’s been BOTHERING ME A LOT, is that I can’t pick one! I just can’t. None of them stand out enough, as powerful and impactful as they were, and that’s shocking to me.”


“What’s actually weird,” she replied, “is the kind of moments you cited… they weren’t exactly happy ones.”


I thought back over everything I’d just shared with her; Chris and I’s divorce, Bruster’s death, Bobby’s passing, getting hurt playing a sport, cringing as I completed drafting the book (with an ending I didn’t necessarily like…)


“Yeah… huh. I hadn’t considered that. Well, I’ve got some happy moments mixed in there; yummy food, fun dancing, therapeutic writing, awe-inspiring mountains, sweet cuddle sessions with my animals… I guess, though, that I wouldn’t necessarily want to relive one of the happiest moments of my life. I’d actually want to relive the one that had made me feel the most alive.”




I replayed the last sentence I’d spoken to her over and over and over in my mind. Yeah — more than being happy, I’d really just want to feel alive.


So — YOU’VE got 30 seconds left. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? Do you love or hate the person? Is the person you? Is your skin ablaze with passion or pain? Do you have gravel embedded in your knees and blood oozing out of your elbows? Is the water engulfing you now; is the pop music drowning you out? Are there mountains off in the distance — majestic, white-capped, gorgeous? Do you kind of wish you could just crash right into them and fall asleep for a good, long while? 




Still here,

Aun Aqui


Like my blog? Read my book!

I self-published my first novel in August 2017 — a delightful tale called “Jinx the Rabbit.” Whether you’re 5 years old or 500 years young, I feel sure you’ll enjoy it. Purchase the book by clicking below and then I’ll ship your signed copy to you within two business days! (Or, if you’d prefer to order the book on Amazon, you can easily do so by visiting the website and searching “Jinx the Rabbit”!)


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Personal stories, lengthy rants, and lighthearted explosions of optimism, all neatly bundled into one blog.

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