Recently, before boarding a transatlantic flight, I caved to the impulse to buy an iPhone app, and $2.99 later I was the proud owner of Bejeweled 2, the only game in the app store that I’d ever heard of.
By way of background, I should share that two decades ago I was know to wile away many a college campus visit (and, subsequently, a reasonable portion of first semester freshman year), playing Tetris into the wee hours of the morning on Apple LC computers. I still have a soft spot for the mindless computer puzzler – though with drastically less time on my hands.
Bejeweled works as follows: your job is to make groupings of three or more jewels in a line; you can only move two adjacent jewels at a time; and for a move to be legal it must create a group of three.
It isn’t a great game, but it has one aspect that I find fascinating. The way the game is programmed, there is always a legal move to be made – which is surprising since they’re often hard to find and the rules governing the game are so simple. And this is the nut of what fascinates me: even knowing this, and even in the confines of a simple, 8×8 board, it’s easy to convince yourself that there are no moves to play.
The practice of playing, then, is as a chance to remind yourself that, no matter what you see, there’s always a move for you to make. You get to see yourself talk yourself out of what is possible, time and time again, until you finally learn that you can always make a move.
Feels a lot like life to me: seeing the board, seeing the moves you think you can make, not seeing anything that’s possible, and telling yourself – even though you know the opposite to be true – that there’s nothing that you can do.
There’s always a move to make. There’s always something you can do to make yourself better, to move forward, to make a change. Always. No matter what.