Sometimes, when I can’t fall asleep at night, I use the game Bejeweled to help me relax. In a sort of meta-moment of my sleepy brain, I realized that the game and how I play it reflect lessons I’ve learned about life, namely. Here’s how.
There isn’t really a wrong way to move through life
I can scan from top to bottom, left to right, only match horizontally or only vertically, completely in reverse, or at random. Whatever way I choose to go, I still make progress.
In life, we can only make decisions based on the knowledge, experience, support, fears, and dreams we have at the time we’re presented each opportunity. At these crossroads in life, there are many directions we can take and each has its costs but also comes with its own set of benefits.
We’re all ‘amateurs’ for a lot longer than we think
As a child, I waited to be a teenager, as a teenager to be a college student, as a college grad to be experienced in my field. Our whole lives we are amateurs of that moment, that new era, but living is also always the same; seeking and experiencing love, pain, purpose, health, fulfillment — all the same goals, all the same spinning jewels.
If the music gets faster and the jewels start flashing, or worse, a fire starts at the bottom of the page, my heart responds in a panicked and distracting rhythm.
Similarly, when I live life as if I’m on a deadline, it’s anxiety-provoking.
Beach vacations might be the ultimate “life without a timer” experience. No impending deadlines, no set schedule, no rush. But it’s possible to live day to day on a “take it as it comes” basis, not looking too much to the future nor dwelling on the past. Those are the days I feel restful and rested.
Mistakes can still turn out alright — sometimes even better
My thumb taps the wrong jewel by mistake and a larger string of jewels disappears than I had originally spotted. Or I swipe faster than I think, and remove a string that could have contributed to a longer set, but then eight more jewels of the same kind fall from the top of the screen and disappear in a bolt of lightning. I’ve leveled up to “apprentice”!
In life, I take a wrong turn in my car, but end up driving past a stunning view of the mountains. I’m late to work, but run into an old friend waiting for the train. I sent out an error-filled email to clients but proofread carefully from then on. Life’s mistakes are opportunities for learning, improvement, and even spontaneity.
Opportunities can present themselves more than once
This time my thumb taps the wrong jewel by mistake and a smaller set than I intended disappears. A few swipes later, the same exact pattern of jewels falls from the sky. I miss it again, more focused on the three pearls in the bottom corner. A few swipes later, it’s back, just waiting for me to match it.
I cross paths with someone 20 times before we’re introduced. I miss a call for an interview and don’t get the job, but at some point later I find a very similar opportunity. I’ve wanted to learn guitar for 10 years, but I finally have enough time and money to take lessons when my kids are older — now we can all learn together. Just because something doesn’t happen the first time doesn’t mean it never will.
Allowing the mind to wander allows for creativity
Sometimes, after minutes of focused hunting, I let my eyes simply wander over the screen and they finally spot that last, elusive set of jewels.
When mulling over a problem in life, be it interpersonal, creative, technical, or anything else, taking a walk or a shower loosens the thoughts enough to allow them the freedom to arrive at a solution or new starting point.
It might sound silly that I put this much thought into a PopCap game, but reflecting on the games we play and the ways we find enjoyment or relaxation in life can offer more insight than we think!
This article was originally published on Medium by Jordan, a Colorado-based writer, linguist, and former educator who hopes to bring connection, acceptance, and understanding to people and ideas. To read more, visit www.jordan-godwin.com and www.jordanfelker.com.