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Life is a game …

Michael Todisco | Thursday, November 18, 2010

Iconic movie character Forrest Gump told the world that “life was like a box a chocolates” in order to stress the seemingly unpredictable and capricious aspects of life. William Shakespeare’s likened our existence to a drama, asserting that “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” These metaphors and similes are potent literary weapons capable of deconstructing and explaining human existence. Both Forrest Gump and William Shakespeare used these literary devices to create sense within the world’s ultimate mystery — the human existence. Countless others have attempted to explain this same question. To this pantheon of possible answers, I humbly submit my own entry: Life is game of Tetris.

It was Benjamin Franklin who declared that, “In the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” However, I think Ben may have given taxation too central of a role. As Al Capone and Martha Stewart both proved to us, taxation can be evaded. This leaves life with only one certainty — its antithesis and eternal nemesis: death. While this view may seem overly morose and pedantic, it takes only a moment to realize its validity. Throughout history there have been billions of distinct existences. Although some characteristics (love, loss, friendship, to name a few) may work their way into a majority of lives, death is the only factor that has touched each and every life. Much like in life, all games of Tetris are doomed to share the same condemned fate. When manipulating each Tetris piece, one is only staving off their ultimate fate for as long as possible. No matter the skill of the player, the game will always come to an end.

In my English teacher’s room in high school, there was a sign listing ten rules to be a successful adult. The number one rule was, “Life isn’t fair, get used to it!” Although everyone essentially has a clean start to begin, almost immediately it becomes muddied with advantages and deprivations. Some players may receive great pieces that come with unimaginable benefits (see what happens in Massachusetts if your last name is Kennedy!), while others may be given an exigent slew of pieces that test their very character. Ultimately though, each player can control their own destiny. Some of the greatest successes emerge from the precarious south side of Chicago, while the most intense tragedies are often found somewhere in the perfection of the suburbia.

Much like Tetris, life is intrinsically undefeatable. There is no critical achievement to define a “winner.” Much is the same in Tetris. This is not Mario; there is no princess or villain to conquer. Tetris is painfully realistic. I may set a personal best or make a memorable maneuver, but I will never conquer the game. Does this mean that I should sit in my room and wait for a fast approaching and unavoidable death? Absolutely not! What this means is that no matter how well I do, there is room to improve and goals to strive towards. It means I can never be satisfied and must perpetually look to improve and achieve. Yes, life is a game of Tetris, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Michael Todisco at mtodisco@nd.edu