The Inventory Game

Dear Friends,

I have been celebrating my eightieth birthday since the end of October and it seems as though good wishes will continue for a while. Often the wishes come with a question – now that you have been around for eighty years – what have you learned, what advice would you pass along, what mistakes have you made that we might avoid?

Some of these questions are asked with a wry smile – and others are truly interested in my response. Lewis Carroll got it right when he parodied a poem by Robert Southy. That poem is all but forgotten – but the parody named You are Old Father William is here forever. Dive into the middle of the poem with me. The questions and answers in the poem run like this…

“You are old,” said the youth, “And your jaws are too weak

For anything tougher than suet;

Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak- 

How on earth did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law;

And argued each case with my wife;

And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,

Has lasted the rest of my life.”

The Carroll poem shows the questions of youth and the responses that age provides.

I thought – I can do this in a game form – and my friends can chime in with their own peculiar brand of wisdom. I call the game INVENTORY. Here’s how it plays.

Rules of the game

Pick any span of years, starting in your own life from the age of 20 or later to your present age For myself, I picked 30 to 80.

Select qualities that you valued at the age you were at the beginning of the span. 

  • Some of those qualities may be intellectual in nature, and the answers you see may have their source in the mind-brain connection. Other qualities may be more connected to the heart-soul relationship, and the source of your response may be a feeling state rather than a mind state.

How have the values you now cherish evolved over the years in your span?

I’m happy to show you mine whether or not you show me yours. But I’d like to keep expanding what we have learned collectively and individually. Here is my personal inventory. 

More brainpower

More flash

Hurry up to stay current



Winding up

Being Hip

Learning about family


Earning money

Trading time for money

Striving for success




More heart power

More substance

Slow down to stay involved



Winding down

Buying a Hip

Learning about family


Earning respect

Trading money for time

Striving for happiness




In the development of software there were two approaches. The first approach was represented by the proprietary methodology developed by Bill Gates. His efforts resulted in DOS programming and later improvements. If you wanted to use his software, you paid a license fee. The other approach was called “open source.” It was available to anyone who wanted to use it. And there was no fee. Thousands of people improved pieces of open source software, and those improvements were incorporated into the software, again without charge.

What if we shared the values we have come to incorporate into our lives, and perhaps some stories about how those values have served our needs. If you would like to play, list the values that reflect your life and how those values changed or evolved over the time span you selected. If you share them with me, I will post them to the blog on my website – and add them to the inventory I have started. 

George Kaufman,

Author of Accidental Spirituality