By Kellie Schorr
*Author’s Note: This article is not about any particular person or the habit of posting your wordle score. There is no judgement of people who play/people who don’t/people who post scores. Get all your words, do what you do, be happy.
If bodhi, the word for enlightenment, was the answer of the day in Wordle I would fail to get it. The “dh” combination would likely never come to mind.
The only words I’ve missed have been words with double letters (“Skill” was my latest loss). I’m so focused on the possibilities of the letters in front of me it doesn’t dawn on me that one could be repeated until it’s too late.
If I’m trying to be super spiritual, I would wax poetic about how the Buddha would have understood that because we are taught to always be in the present and work with the situation as it is, not what “could be.” When I’m not spiritually bypassing, I’ll admit that I simply didn’t see it. You know what else I don’t see? People posting their Wordle score when they don’t get it either.
I have a large number of friends who post their 3/6, 4/6—sometimes even a hearty 6/6 (with a “need more coffee today” chuckle) but I have yet to see any of them write, “I did not get the word today.” Why? People post their scores for a number of reasons—it’s fun, to be part of community, something to post that isn’t politics, religion or Covid, or to say something about their ability, experience, or alphabetic prowess. It’s all good.
What I find interesting isn’t what your Wordle score tells people, but what it doesn’t.
Experience of Being
When I see the pretty little boxes or less visual but highly impressive 3/6, what I don’t see is what it felt like for you when you were working on it. Maybe it was an easy day. Your starting word paid off big vowel profits and you breezed to green in fifteen seconds. Maybe it was tough going. You used your second starter to get more clues and really had to mentally run through all the words you could imagine. Maybe it was a little more stressy than you really wanted it to be. Maybe your whole life is a little more stressy that you want It to be.
When we look at the “results” it is easy to be impressed or disheartened, and never realize that the human being on the other side has had an experience in the process. It is true with a micro-result like a Wordle score and true with a major result like a job promotion or an Olympic medal (or the agony of defeat).
Michael Phelp’s film, The Weight of Gold does an amazing job of sharing the other side of Olympic results—good and bad—including post-Olympic depression, disorientation and suicide. Some athletes who have committed suicide failed to medal in their sport. Others stood on the podium multiple times. The results, either way, didn’t reveal what we needed to know—the athlete was in crisis.
Being part of our world is so much more than showing success but sharing and empathizing with the experience of being no matter how large or small it may be.
The thing about social media is the “see me now” nature of each and every platform. We chose what moments (and scores) to share, and what less than stellar, equally as real, moments to keep to ourselves. You want to impress me? Show me the times you didn’t get it. Talk about the temptation you had to open up your browser to an online word generator just to get an extra clue. Share about how it felt on a day when absolutely nothing seems to be going right, you realized on guess five that you’ve been leaving out a letter you knew was present from your start word.
It’s human and understandable to want to project ourselves as smart, able, good with letters… or logic…or life.
When that is all we are willing to show, we end up with an emotional utility drawer, just like the one in every kitchen, collecting cords to broken appliances, tiny keys that we can’t remember what they opened, issues, needs, shame and insecurity.
Is cute little Wordle as serious as all that? No. And, yes. At least—how we handle it is. What we do with trivial things, we carry into our whole big world. Better to embrace all that you are, and be willing to share your whole self, misses and all.
Your Next Word
This wouldn’t be a Buddhist article if we didn’t spend at least a little time talking about impermanence. Wordle is a terrific way to celebrate momentary accomplishment, challenge, or luck. On that golden day when your starter word happens to be the word of the day and you get the coveted 1/6 (I feel like confetti should come out of your phone at that point or a tuxedoed squirrel should knock on your door with a glass of champagne) remember, tomorrow it maybe a 4/6, 6/6, or entire miss.
In fact, tomorrow itself may go missing as well.
We are impermanent beings, and we don’t have a lock on the next minute, day or word. Cherish every try, every success, and every miss because that moment when it’s just the letters, the boxes and you is precious. Don’t forget to know that. Don’t forget to show it.
This is enlightenment—or in five letters—bodhi.
Photo: Getty Images
Editor: Dana Gornall
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