A life lesson from Tetris, turned on its head

A life lesson from Tetris, turned on its head

I’ll start this out by saying that I love Tetris. My brother found an emulator for an old version a few years ago, and I was hooked for the better part of a month. I am spatially challenged—especially when it comes to gauging distances, but also with rotation—so I’m not the best at it. But, much the same with standardized testing, that didn’t stop me from trying. The only difference is that my parents didn’t get a yearly score report/analysis from Tetris saying “Your daughter’s pretty cool, but she has exactly zero spatial skills”.

Anyway, onto my response:

I would argue that accomplishments make the errors disappear, but that’s probably because I interpreted the blocks (as opposed to actions that don’t put them in the right place) as the errors when I first read this. But even if you have stacked-up blocks, you still have some degree of control as to how you arrange whatever is thrown at you next, leading to you being able to take back control over your earlier “failures”. What seems like a bad situation at the time may be a windfall later. Yes, there is a good chance it will cost you the game, but how do you know if you don’t play?

Also, if you don’t “play Tetris” (i.e. live life, perhaps slightly dangerously), you won’t make any mistakes, but the blank board you’ll have to show for that isn’t nearly as impressive, given that your score will be zero instead of elebenty bajillion… or slightly less if you still have stuff stacked up. AND ONE THING MORE: No matter how many times you lose in Tetris, you can always restart. I’d say that’s actually pretty optimistic.

And really, if you play Tetris, even if you make mistakes, you’ll have a brilliantly-colored array (okay, 2D array) to show for it. And maybe, at what seems like the last minute, you’ll get lucky and start being able to pare it back down.

It’s all in how you look at it, really. In any case, Tetris is a really good metaphor for life, albeit one that I may have turned on its head just now. Like Tetris, life takes practice. I’m willing to play.

Chickadoodle’s guide to getting it wrong

“You’re right.”

One of the most beautiful two-word phrases in the English language, made even more beautiful in that I really don’t hear it very often. Not because I’m rarely right, but because I’m surrounded by brilliant people who are also right a lot of the time, so we just don’t feel the need to acknowledge each other’s correctness.

Being human, though, I do get things wrong. Sometimes, I get things spectacularly wrong. I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t. As my roommate and I are fond of saying, “College is all about experimentation!”

We usually get funny looks because we’re actually not talking about sex or drugs. (Or rock ‘n’ roll, usually. Dubstep, swing, and occasionally pop, though.) Yesterday, I decided to try adding some raspberry flavoring to my vanilla soymilk, just to see how it would taste. (It was excellent.) See, I’m mildly lactose intolerant—enough that I need soymilk, anyway. Cow’s milk does unhappy things to me when I just drink it straight. But soymilk is also tricky for me, because I didn’t have milk for so long (in the past eight years, I’ve had maybe a full 8 fluid ounces that wasn’t cooked/baked into something), so I don’t like the taste. Vanilla soymilk is better, but it does not always mix with whatever food I’m eating, and doubly so if this food happens to be cereal. It’s all a process of trial and error.

Sometimes, it’s a process of “oops, I forgot…”

I like baking. I love baking breakfasts. Even though I’m a morning person, I just shouldn’t do this first thing in the morning sometimes. I’ve had two really spectacular flubs: First, the fail muffins—I forgot to add baking powder, so they were flat and dense. Second, the exploding coffee cake—I doubled the recipe, and tripled the baking powder. That was the day I learned how much of a pain cleaning the oven is. Whoops. Baking might not be an exact science or art—one molecule more than three cups of flour won’t kill it—but there is such a thing as really getting it wrong.

I also had one very spectacular signing flub a few months ago. I was signing with a deaf student, and could not for the life of me remember the sign for “nice”. I could piece together a whole bunch of other sentences and bits of information, but this one simple sign, I could not recall. I wound up having to fingerspell it, my face the very picture of frustrated shame the entire time. (At least that’s one thing I can do well that ASL requires…)

I’ve just sort of learned to laugh at myself, though. It’s really the only thing I can do. If it’s something I need to learn from, I try to get the lesson and move on. Not always before I bury my head under a pillow or yank my sweatshirt hood up over my head or turn bright red (there is a reason—well, two, actually—a high school friend nicknamed me “Thermoman”), but I can laugh at that later, too. Being right all the time is overrated.