Turning Points: Mahjong

Not all turning points need to be big moments. They don’t even need to be moments at all. Sometimes, all you need is a sudden realisation. Something that shifts your perspective, just enough that it changes things. And sometimes, that “something” can be as stupid as a game of Mahjong.

Playing along

Some background: I’m a huge person for board games, family games… Anything that we would call “gezelschapsspelletjes” – games you play with (or in) company. The type of games that you see, and that bring you back to cosy nights, with the wind blowing outside. To the family sitting around a table, hot cocoas, and just being together.

That actually has extended to all card games, or basically: to any game my grandma could teach me. For as long as I can remember, family get togethers have been marked by playing card games – in particular Canasta. It’s one of those games that almost no one here knows, and it’s become something of a family joke that, in order to be part of the family? You need to be able to play Canasta.

So, for years, whenever I’m in need of relaxation, card games are an option. I wouldn’t be me, naturally, if I didn’t expand that to include computerised versions of card games. And those computerised games became daily challenges. And streaks. Until, suddenly, I found myself playing Mahjong every day because, you know – I wanted to complete all the daily challenges!

Choosing is losing

In totally unrelated news, I’m not good at choosing. I mean, there’s a reason that “choosing is losing” is such a well-known expression, right?

I’m the kind of person that can spend 2 actual hours choosing what to buy, and then removes everything from my cart, because “I’m just not sure”. I’ll go to a book fair, and put over half the books I chose back – because I’m just not “sure” about them anymore.

Let’s face it – I’m a massive cliché with a cherry on top.

And the biggest reason for that? Is plain old that, if I choose one thing, I’ll remove all the other options. And I can’t bear the thought of having to do that.

Choosing is losing? No - every choice you make leads to new opportunities and new realities being created Click To Tweet

A game of Mahjong

Now, at this point, you might be wondering what on earth these two things have to do with each other. Well, let me enlighten you.

When playing Mahjong, you always have to select 2 tiles that have the same pattern. You can only select those tiles that have at least one side free. So, for example, if you start a game, you may have 6 pairs where both tiles are available. That also means that you have to choose which of those pairs you will choose out with.

Here’s the twist. For every pair that you select, new tiles become available. Whether they are one row down from the tile you eliminated, or just adjacent to it? Making a choice creates new ones.

And, after playing Mahjong on the daily for actual months? Well, I suddenly realised that the same can actually be said about life.

After all – every time you make a choice, you’re just creating new options. So, rather than being scared of choosing. Rather than feeling that every choice you make, just leads to missed opportunities. Why not look at it in reverse? Why not focus on the other side of that story, which is equally true. That every choice you make leads to new opportunities and new realities being created?

Not bad for a game of Mahjong, right?


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