Waiting for the “I” piece…

Who doesn’t know Tetris? It’s probably the most popular game in the planet since it was released back in 1984. This is what happens when you let Russians playing around with tetrominoes and a computer: they create a tile-matching puzzle video game that changes the world.

The game can be quite entertaining and addictive. Most players have their own strategy on how to locate each of the 5 different pieces (in the original version); some like to wait for the pieces to fall naturally to the bottom and others rush the pieces down to get the next one. If there’s one thing all players have in common is that we all worship the “I” piece, the one that looks like a long stick.

How many times did we organize and pack all the pieces in one or both corners, forming a solid 5-row block, leaving only that specific space in one of the corners or in the middle, where the long stick would fit perfectly and take it all away. And we would wait and wait and wait until the savior piece appeared and we’d watch with great ecstasy all the rows disappear into nothingness. It’s the most pleasure you can get with this game, really.

Intentionally or not, I’ve found myself waiting for that “I” piece in real life many times… Waiting for something big that will solve other problems or situations I’m having. Or waiting for that “big break” to then make other decisions in my life. For example, let’s say that I’m waiting for that bonus check or tax refund to put some of my debt to rest; but in the meantime, I’m over-spending in things that are not necessities or priorities. Meanwhile, I make minimum payments and let interest abuse me because I’m waiting 6 more months until my big, fat check arrives. I have my faith on that check; my problems will finally go away in a day. I might not know that my car will break in 5 months and now the check won’t be my financial hero anymore, but my last minute butt-rescuer.

While we wait for the “I” piece, we might be losing opportunities of clearing some rows, probably not 5 at a time, but we might be getting other pieces that could get us to the same port at a slower pace. With the sick obsession of waiting for the long stick, many times we piled up these other pieces in obscene and irrational ways, just because we didn’t want to disturb our well organized strategy. I have to confess I have lost many games just because I was too proud to occupy that straight space with other piece that was not “I”. I kept waiting and parking piece after piece, one on top of the other, until I lost control. Then it was too late to react; and you’re done.

Back to the financial example, if I was truly focused on my goal – get rid of debt – I would have regularly contributed to reducing the debt instead of waiting for a big solution in the future. I could have taken care of both the debt and car repair by the time I’ve got my tax refund.

The financial scenario is just one case, but we might be replicating this behavior in other aspects of our lives, like the way we use our time. Our biggest excuse is not having time to do that thing we really want or need to do: going back to school to finish that degree (or get a new one!), learning a new language, playing that musical instrument we used to play as a child, having children, volunteering, and many other things we keep pushing because we don’t have the time. Ah! But when we retire, or when we reach that sweet financial spot or when something else happens, then we will have the time to enjoy the things we want, nothing will stop us then! Last person I heard saying that die way before he could see that golden day…

Everybody has the right to choose their own strategy in life; there’s no right or wrong, we all do the best we can with what we have. I’ve decided to stop postponing things when possible. I try to do what I have to do and also do what I want to do. I cannot certainly do everything I want to do at the same time, like killing 5 rows at once with the “I” piece, but I find some pleasure in taking one at a time.

If there are things you can fix today and achieve the desired results, don’t risk it for tomorrow. Tomorrow will bring more things to worry about and you might not get an “I” piece for a while. Don’t let the rows pile up!

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Virginia Victorio
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