Did you ever play jenga growing up? You know. The game with wooden blocks that you stack into a tower. Then you remove piece by piece, placing the removed blocks on the top of the tower until the whole tower collapses. Well today, I played jenga with my life.
It started off fine. My blocks were stacked, sturdy and strong.– Okay, okay, I lie. I started two blocks down because of working extra hours and having a stomach bug earlier this week, but despite the two blocks, I still felt like I was standing pretty tall and proud. Then the day started. And while no single event blew away my tower, by the end of the day, I was sure to feel the fall.
I got called into the toxic office for the day. One block down. Place the weight on top.
I quietly canceled a beloved event for a needy co-worker (canceled twice already). One block down. Place the weight on top.
I dredged up heartbreaks from my past. One block down. Place the weight on top.
I missed my yoga class. One block down. Place the weight on top.
I missed every single beat in a dance. One block down. Place the weight on top.
Frustrated with myself, I continued to miss steps all night, and that’s when I felt it. I took a deep breath in, knowing that if I breathed- even slightly- my tower would collapse. Sometimes you can hold your breath until you turn purple, but you’re already too off balance- you’re going to tumble. So tonight, standing in front of dozens of people I barely knew, I felt the fall. My face still shown its smile; my laugh still carried through the air. Yet inside I felt the the fall of a girl too tired to stand strong a second longer.
I was recently given one of the most amazing gifts in my life. The gift of joy, sprinkled with good conversation. It came in the form of popsicle sticks and glue. Did you know that with a little engineering and ingenuity you can build a bridge out of popsicle sticks that can hold the weight of an entire person!?! You can. All it took was gluing a few carefully measured and selected popsicle sticks together and arranging them into a magically appearing bridge.
I’ve spent a lot of my life passing on glue and popsicle sticks. Too afraid to get stuck to the wrong people, only to end up with some of the worst people around. Though I am warm towards others in need, when it comes to me, I can be a lot like the anti-glue… not letting too many people too close, just incase… living in utter need of and fear of truly letting in a community to shape things and hold each other together for fear that they won’t measure up and won’t be selected carefully enough. But what I learned from my friend who passed the glue and popsicles was the added strength in not going at it alone. Perhaps if I had added some glue to my jenga day, I would not have felt the fall when the little weights started to pile on.
So somehow going forward when someone offers me popsicle sticks, I need to learn to smile and gratefully say, ‘Thank you, pass the glue’. And I hope next time I offer you the glue, you’ll try it too.