We Are All Tetris Addicts
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
*This post was inspired by a friend. She knows who she is. Or maybe she doesn't, I'm not here to judge her level of self awareness.*
In the ninth grade, I was an addict. There was something I thought about all the time. I dreamt about this topic, spent hours devoted to it, and even found my fingers trembling when I wasn't giving in to my addiction.
This addiction was to the computer game Tetris.
Due to being too stupid to take high school level hebrew, I had a lot of free time on my hands while a middle school level class was arranged for me. (I was also too stupid for middle school hebrew. Actually, stupid is the wrong word. I was far too obstinate to ever pay a single drop of attention ever, instead focusing on fantasy Quidditch, and turns out you need focus to learn another language. On the plus side I think about my fantasy Quidditch team nearly every time I go to the gym and haven't really thought about hebrew since I was 17. So who really won?)
I used this free time to play Tetris. A lot of Tetris. Tetris to the point where I got to be really good at Tetris. There was one memorable Sunday where I watched the classic movie 13 Going On 30 and played one Tetris game for its entire runtime, which, according to Siri, is 107 minutes. That's right, I didn't get out for 107 minutes.
Eventually I started to show classic signs of addiction which was weird because I was busy being addicted to something else at the time.
Apparently I contain multitudes and enough room for two crazy addictions at once. I decided to drop Tetris because I had gotten a phone and my parents finally started paying for unlimited texting (remember those days Millennials?) and the middle school level hebrew class had been arranged for me.
I got a C- that I did not deserve. I deserved a G or an H.
But one thing I learned from Tetris is that the real players-the ones who play in tournaments and such-have a strategy. Their strategy is build as much as they can with a straight hole down the sides or middle so that when the straight Tetris piece comes down they can get a combo bonus. No matter who you are, if you've played Tetris you probable love the straight pieces. There is something so refreshing about dropping them into that gap and feeling the relief as rows disappear.
A lot of people take a similar route with shidduchim.
You know that feeling when an older girl, let's say 33, gets engaged and everyone breathes a sigh of relief? There is hope! There is a G-D in this world! There is someone for everyone! I can finally take her off my tehillim list!
Trust me, I know the feeling as well. I'm a spreadsheet person and I have an extensive sheet of all the girls for whom I am davening. It feels amazing when one gets engaged and I can delete her name. Being from a small town it is even better-I can see how close a particular class is to having all of its members married and I can feel the hope that in some of the older classes everyone is married so there must be someone for me out there.
The trick is enjoying the feeling and thanking Hashem for His mercy-but not trying to force a piece where it won't fit.
We'd like every girl to be the long piece and easily fit anywhere and get a multi row combo. Some people are like that and that is great. But some people are the L shade piece the T shaped piece, the square, the square with another square sticking out, etc.
If you find yourself cramming a square into a long hole you are going to find yourself out very quickly-and there are still 105 minutes of 13 Going On 30 left.
The problem is that we get addicted to the feeling of the long piece and we start seeing everyone as a long piece which prompts the following conversation:
Shadchan/family member/concerned friend/random person: I really want to set you up but what you are looking for is really hard to find and it's hard.
Single: Oh wow. That must be so hard. For you.
Friends, there are a lot of pieces out there and unlike Tetris (or maybe like Tetris) these pieces have feelings. When you see a square dropping onto your board it is probably not the right time to curse the heavens. Sometimes we push the other pieces to the side while waiting for that long piece. The masters have learned how to use the more shapely pieces to build a hole for the simpler straight pieces.
But maybe it's time to try a strategy that isn't so reliant on one piece and is more focused on each piece that falls down. Especially when each piece is entirely unique.
And even more so, stop telling the pieces they are hard. They know that already. They've been the L shaped one their whole lives. And you don't know what hard is. They do.