I’ve been addicted to this game for the past three weeks. It’s the perfect addiction: deceptively easy to play (most of the game can be played with 2 keys, sometimes a third, and the first half can even be mostly keysmash) and seemingly impossible to win. You learn your strategy and try to perfect it and just launch it over and over, because each failure was only one number tile away from a win, and it’ll have to happen next time…
Actually, I’ve been addicted to my own game for a long time, the game where I try to get my life to fit together in the way I want so that I can merge those pairs and bask in the endorphine rush of a new glowing tile. I want the sense that things are going somewhere, that I am taking the right steps, that I can win. Losing is the fear at my elbow, waiting to take over when I can’t force the gratifying situation in the moment that I want it.
What I’m saying is, I might have control issues. Whether it’s fear or pride, or just the hope that I could escape the pressure of preparing for what’s next and relax enough to focus on the actual business of being alive, it has sent me into innumerable slumps over the past year. This must be the real end of childhood: no longer passively submitting to whatever is supposed to happen next, and no longer passively freaking out about the challenges of “real life” and then pushing the hard decisions forward a few years. I have matured into ACTIVELY freaking out.
So, back to this game. Because it’s struck me, over the past few weeks, that the only way to win the game is to stop obsessing over lining everything up neatly every time. You’ll have two fours that have to go in opposite directions, or two eights stranded in opposite corners with only twos and 16s checkerboarded in between, and that’s okay — because the larger pattern requires your largest tile in a corner, and you cannot let it get out of place. At first it seems like you’ll be hopelessly gridlocked and that you are blindly sacrificing the smaller tiles just to box your biggest tile in. What you eventually realize is that, to win, you have to trust that the game will keep offering up these smaller tiles, over and over, and out of this slightly unpredictable, chaotic generosity, there will always be another chance to merge your tiles, if you just focus on matching up what you see and keeping the biggest in the corner. You have to practice a kind of half-blindness and trust that the part you can’t see yet will work in your favor.
What is the reason for elaborating on this fairly obvious metaphor? Well, not to brag or anything, but I totally beat the game last night (and even kept going past the 2048 tile, SUCKAS). So I feel that my ponderous moralizing now has some street cred.
Trusting God and trusting others with my happiness is definitely a harder project (and, I suspect, may take longer than three weeks).