My Life is like a game of Jenga

Jenga is one of my favorite games to play. I was introduced to this wonderful game when I was watching the “Big Bang Theory”. Sheldon and Leonard are playing this huge tower stack game. They are allowed to move only one block at a time with a single hand. That block has to be placed over the top.



So those who have never played Jenga before, here is extract from Wikipedia:

Jenga is a game of physical skill created by Leslie Scott, and currently marketed by Hasbro. Players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower constructed of 54 blocks. Each block removed is then placed on top of the tower, creating a progressively taller and unstable structure.


The name jenga is derived from kujenga, a Swahili word which means “to build”

Jenga is played with 54 wooden blocks. Each block is three times longer than its width, and one fifth as thick as its length 1.5 cm × 2.5 cm × 7.5 cm. Blocks have small, random variations from these dimensions so as to create imperfections in the stacking process and provide additional challenge to the game. To set up the game, the included loading tray is used to stack the initial tower which has eighteen levels of three blocks placed adjacent to one another along, their long side and at right angles to the previous level (so, for example, if the blocks in the first level lie lengthwise north-south, the second-level blocks will lie east-west).


The other day while I was playing Jenga alone in my dorm room, something struck me. What if my life is like a big game of Jenga which I am playing all along? What if I am consciously or sub-consciously moving one block at a time? I discussed this with my sister and she mentioned to write down the thought process. So here we are.

All of us say no two people are the same. Each human is unique in his/her own walk of life. But there are some building blocks that build the central structure that we see of ourselves. Yes, Life is complex as we know it. But for the sake of this article I thought to simplify things in an easier format. Every day we observe people all around us. We interact with some on a daily basis, some monthly, some occasionally and some on rare occasions or occurrences. This 24 hour life cycle chisels our life as we know it and mold us into who we are.

It is natural that we look at each other and into each other when we need something or, want to observe something. We are quick to make judgments/opinions/conclusions about the person in front of us without second thought. Take my case for example. The most common first glance question/reaction that I get from general public or even some photogs is “eww” or “is this a serious hobby” or in those lines when I introduce them that, I am a full time macro photographer. Same case with my sister who has done her PhD in Hemophilia and was a TA in her dept. at the University. We both have discussed the reactions we got from people whether we know them personally or not. Majority of the times we chose to ignore it and then got used to it. It did not stop us from what we were doing or, loved to do. But the thought of why some give this instant judgment hit amazed me. Humans are social people. There is this natural comparison mode built in. Whether it is our DNA based survival mode on a constant on switch or something else, I don’t know.

One sentence my dad always says to me from time to time.

“Life is not perfect”.

Obviously his point is you are not going to get all you want and live a 100% happy life. The quote carries more weight. This was my realization point when I was playing Jenga.

54 blocks put in set of 3 blocks in alternate placement scenario makes a big sturdy tower. Pretty high I must say. I have to move ONE block from the tower and place it up. No block is same in dimensions and cut of the same size. I may have more of one but less of other. Together they make a tower. If they are strategically placed as I progress in the game of life, the tower can grow but at the extent of putting pressure on certain blocks. Certain blocks can take the variation in pressure caused by the movements. Some blocks will wobble, giving you a warning that you are stressing that particular block. Some blocks will fall instantly when you make a wrong move.

There is a catch though. Even when the tower falls, there are some blocks which stand as is. Whether they stand singular or a group of blocks, fluctuate. But they will stand. The base will seldom completely crash out by one extreme move. In our life there are some blocks that form the base. The base will differ from you and me. It HAS to. Your blocks and my blocks are not the same. We then build the tower in set of 3 and alternate positions to create our tower that we see fit. The ongoing quest of making the tower higher and taller is constantly in our mind. Do we pay enough attention to our base blocks? Our base blocks are going to hold the tower as it grows taller than before. This is the difference of “thinking” having a good base vs. really having a good base. For some the base may also shift to new methods/definitions as they see fit during their life progress.

Strategies work out when you are busy in building the tower. Lot of times we keep the end result in mind, “I want my tower to be tall.” Do we keep in mind, “How can I make my tower tall”?

As they say,

it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey. Ring a bell?

When we shift our strategies from our end goal to focus on the tools we have to achieve this goal, things start to look different.

When you make the move, the position of that single block alters everything. Concentration on a set of blocks over a period of time can make the tower unstable. Do we pause at any moment of day and wonder, “Am I doing this right”? “Was I unnecessarily angry with my mom’? Did it made sense to write an angry email to my boss? What if when the time comes to move the block which you did not strategically think about before, will give away on the tower height? Will it be too late?



Some blocks will always be together. Some blocks will be independent. Some interdependent. Some totally independent. Their connection in the total cosmos is a known fact. There is this invisible strength that holds all together. It’s your responsibility to keep it held like a glue. Yes glue dries up. There will be cracks. We are given opportunities to correct our mistakes. Point is, we have to be vigilant enough to spot them and have the heart to accept that, and YES I made a mistake. Even if the tower falls the first time you take an effort to make it tall, remember our base. Do you need to work on your base? Did the placement go wrong? Why did it go wrong? Questions many, answers plenty. There is no one right question and one right answer.

It is fun to observe that a year has 52 weeks. Jenga has 54 blocks. If we put aside two blocks of which we may not have control, we still are in control of 52 blocks. That makes the opportunity to concentrate on ONE block for a week. That choice rests entirely on you. Life has given you a weekly strategy system to work out on your blocks. End of the week you have to move that block. Which block you move when, will and can define your life, your surroundings and your current existence. I have listed down my version of 54 blocks in no particular order.


  1. Parents
  2. Childhood
  3. Siblings
  4. Extended Family
  5. Schooling
  6. Friends
  7. Teachers
  8. Education
  9. Knowledge
  10. Wealth
  11. Growth
  12. Expertise
  13. Hobbies
  14. Passion
  15. Respect
  16. Faith
  17. Principles
  18. Acquaintances
  19. Mentors
  20. Behavior
  21. Time
  22. Personal Goals
  23. Marriage
  24. Travel
  25. Health
  26. Interests
  27. Job
  28. Career
  29. Company
  30. Music
  31. Taste/Preferences
  32. Self-Importance
  33. Anger
  34. Mind
  35. Body
  36. Monetary Power
  37. Effort
  38. Greed
  39. Needs
  40. Comparison
  41. Vision
  42. Forgiveness
  43. Attitude
  44. Happiness
  45. Problems
  46. Posture
  47. Creativity
  48. Choice
  49. Love
  50. Kindness
  51. Speech
  52. Purpose
  53. Hearing capacity
  54. Habits

I don’t know the position of these blocks in my tower. I do know they exist. And what you know, it’s almost the end of the year. New Year resolution?

Time to make the next move. One week at a time.