Tetris, Failure and Risks

I’m afraid my life will turn out the way I lose at Tetris.

I’ll be trucking along, thinking ahead and placing pieces accordingly — because that’s how I operate, a day ahead and a piece ahead. It makes things much simpler by the time you have to do them, and frees up your brain to think about the day after that when you’re on the next day.

One day, that’ll catch up to me and I’ll be sitting on my bike next to the Greek bakery across the street, waiting for the cars to clear, and I’ll realize thinking ahead amounts to nothing. So I’ll pass up home for the levee and go watch the sunset.

And then I’ll freeze because I didn’t think to bring a jacket and that’s where someone’s dog will find me.

More likely, I’ll slam the down arrow on the keyboard and end up with a skinny straight piece piled on top of a perfect block with four vertical spaces missing. And keep hitting the down arrow, making split second decisions until the game’s over.

It’s like when I set a fiscal goal for myself and as soon as I reach it, I decide it’s time to buy a palette of eyeshadow the size of my head or a new bike.

Most of the time I don’t actually buy those things, but one time I packed a Jeep full of two friends and camping gear and we just drove to Big Bend over Mardi Gras break. It was a thirteen hour drive. One way. And the car broke down once we got there.

So you tell me who won.

I’d like to believe I did, hiking more than 4,000 feet straight up and down again in less than a day, reaching a view of two countries I’d never experienced before, learning how a car battery isn’t supposed to look and watching the sun set over the desert while discussing potential reasons for the pineal gland’s existence.


The view from the top of Emory Peak, the highest point in Big Bend National Park

One of my roommate’s friends brought a TV setup for Tetris to our house a couple months ago, and it’s still here even though our TV sits underneath the homework desk in the living room. My roommate pulls it out every so often to watch Les Miserables when she’s sick, but otherwise it collects dust and takes up space.

That was until the Tetris arrived. My roommate’s friend and I spent the entire night dueling one another until I finally cleared 200 lines before he did. Something about seeing the game on a TV screen made it more real — meaning my constant failure was also more concrete.

In the end, though, I won. And it’s just like the other tiny failures. There’s no way I’d end up dead of hypothermia on a levee because that’s not how the human body works.

Mistakes are just that, mistakes. And no matter how many times I spin into a panic about huge decisions like where I’ll spend the summer, it’s not worth the stress.

In the end, place matters the most because place determines connections and possibilities. But it also matters the least since places are mostly about the people who inhabit them.

It’s no use feeling Tetris-depressed and making regrettable snap decisions.

So I’m making a list of five year goals right now and ripping it up. Because whatever my goals are today matter for today, and not in five years.

What matters for today is that I place the right piece for the immediate future. Life goes on. I’ll buy a new bike if mine’s falling apart.


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