Sunday, August 22, 2010

How life is like a game of Mahjong

Mahjong is an ancient Chinese game that has been played in the United States since the 1920's. A large part of modern Jewish culture, the game of Mahjong provides not only an outlet for gambling, but also a way to gather with friends, pass time, gossip, and, of course, eat. Tonight, as I was sitting at my kitchen table with my mother, sister, and aunt Michelle, playing the game we have all come to love so much, I couldn't help but notice how my life was a lot like a Mahjong game. For those who don't know, Mahjong is played with numeric tiles in three suits (bams, cracks, dots), 8 flowered tiles, 16 tiles signifying direction (4 tiles marked north, 4 tiles marked south, 4 tiles marked east, 4 tiles marked west), 12 tiles signifying 3 different dragons (red, green, white) and 8 "jokers" which can be used as anything. The Jewish way of playing has a card that outlines all of the various different hands and combinations you need to win, and the object is to go through rounds of picking and discarding tiles trying to obtain the tiles and suits you need to match the hands on the card. As I was playing tonight I found such striking similarities between how I play the game and how life seems to work (for me at least). If I start out with certain tiles, even if they might not fit with my other tiles, I just can't give them up. I almost never pass away dragon or flower tiles, and I seem to almost always try and build hands around them (even if it doesn't seems so practical). I think I tend to treat life that way too. I find things, people, places that I love, and try to base many of my decisions around them; I try to fit my hand of life to those, so to speak, tiles. Now of course, there are certain times when it just isn't practical to hang on to those favored tiles, and that is when you have to take chances and play new hands; form new and unfamiliar combinations of tiles. These hands are different and unfamiliar, but if you can manage to pull the right tiles and secure a win, it feel so good!! I think comparing this to life is actually quite accurate. I feel safe and comfortable with what I know and love, but taking risks and chances can be just as beneficial (and sometimes more so beneficial) then just always playing what you know. But then the next hand comes and I continue saving my dragon tiles and flower tiles trying to make combinations fit. The thing is I am very successful at Mahjong (for whatever reason). I see combinations that work, am good at quickly changing hands if need be to make other things fit in, and constantly play close attention to what other hands people are playing to ensure that I do not make a mistake of throwing a tile that might allow them to win. I'm hoping to have that same kind of handle on life, especially in the near future with so much unknown. I hope to take chances and risks, play hands that might not be familiar to me, and, God willing, experience wins and nothing but good from playing these unfamiliar hands. However, like my Mahjong game, my taking these chances and discarding my favorite tiles only happens once in a while, and in most cases I try to play hands (old and new, familiar and unfamiliar) that might be different and varying, but always incorporating the tiles that I love. Also, in the event that I do discard the tiles that I love, chances are the very next game I am right back to collecting them. There are places and people in my life that are like these beloved tiles, and this time of my life happens to be when I try the new hand; the hand I have never played but know that just trying it will be rewarding. But like the Mahjong game it will be short lived and wonderful, and then it will be onto the next hand and adventure hopefully incorporating my beloved favorite tiles. And let me just say, a win on a hand with the tiles that you love and are familiar can feel just as amazing as the rush you get from winning a never before played hand. I will soon be leaving my flowered tiles ( my country, home, family) and my dragon tiles (Jordan, his family, my friends), will play my new hand, and will come home to hopefully find my next hand incorporating everything that will be temporarily left behind as I throw myself into the unfamiliarity of a new place, culture, and way of life.

Aside from all of this today was a much better day for me. I didn't cry once today and know that Jordan would be so proud of how strong I am trying to be. I miss him more and more each day, but the thought of him is starting to bring happiness instead of hurt and tears. Just for fun I did one of my bucket list items and recorded a few clips of songs. They are just for fun, pretty funny, most definitely not that great, but singing made me happy and I had a BLAST just letting go, being silly, and doing something I love. Wish me luck posting them :-)

Until tomorrow then,


  1. I couldnt think of a better way to look at life. Some times you win and sometimes you lose you just hope to have fun along the way! No crying and know that life will work out the best for you even if it doesnt seem that way at first

  2. This is a great analogy Jordana. Well done.