Jenga: When support is taken away
Last updated on February 28, 2011 at 01:23 PM

Jenga: There is something philosophical about this simple game.

Piled on a table, all of the 48 blocks are exactly the same size, shape, color. None is more important than another.

To begin the game, the blocks are stacked in alternating flat rows of three. Their uniformity makes a perfect sturdy tower, but the whole premise of the game is to remove blocks one by one.
Even as pieces are removed, players try to maintain stability. They work to detach blocks in such a way that the tower stands firm. Removing a crucial piece or taking a piece when the tower is already unsteady can cause the whole structure to collapse.

Though every block looks the same from far away, when you get close, you can see small differences: nicks, grooves, the grain of the wood. In Jenga, the importance of a specific block doesn’t lie in these differences. A block becomes significant when it joins the tower. Its importance is determined by the pieces it helps support.

A professor at my college passed away yesterday, so to some extent, I’m equating life with a massive game of Jenga.

As people who hold great importance in your life are taken, the world becomes a bit unsteady. And when all of the support that person gave is gone, the world seems to crash violently to the ground.
Maybe our lives are made up of towers of people who have influenced and supported us — people who all seemed the same until we built them into the tower, people who we don’t realize how significant they are until they’re gone.

The important thing about Jenga is that every time the tower falls, you have to rebuild it. Pieces go in different spots, and different blocks offer support. Throughout life you’re changing who you lean on, but no pieces are ever really gone. Every piece you take out is added to the top, and though the support a person offered is gone, his or her influence is still there, shaping the way future levels will be formed.

Avatar for seegull737
Bio: Simpson College's How-to guru, Zombie administrator and opera librettist recently became a grownup writing for The Telegraph Herald

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