Part One of Four:
Saturday night's game wasn't a game for winners and losers, only learners. This wasn't going to be a game for lightweights, but in fact a game that would take you to the place that makes you human. It was being billed as a quest to get your spirit back, and once you started it, once you let go, you couldn’t stop. You weren't allowed to. I was attending a Mother's Day Weekend Seminar called "Money And You" in the hotel just across the street from Penn Station on Seventh Avenue. The sixty of us were being sent out to the lobby and we would have twenty-minutes to break off into twelve teams of five. We'd all pretty much gotten to know each other in one way or another over the last couple of days. Some of us had been on teams together before for other games and I tried to get on a team with someone I had already worked with. Something about that comfort zone of familiarity and going into the unknown alone. After fifteen-minutes of walking around the lobby and not being chosen, I was left with no choice. The five us that were left, at the end of the time limit, who had no team, were now in fact our own team. I honestly don’t remember ever having seen these people all weekend and for the next five hours we were going to play a game together that would change our lives forever.
When we came back into the ballroom there were twelve round tables covered with white table cloths and five chairs around each set up for the teams. Everyone seemed a little nervous and a little anxious. No one really knew what this game was all about. All we knew was that it was going to involve demonstrating the essence of a few words and that the game was ultimately optional. However, we were instructed that if one of you didn’t want to play, no one on your team could play, and you would all have to leave the ballroom. Everyone who was there stayed, committed to the game at large. On the walls, there were handwritten posters that read: LOVE, in green marker, JOY, in orange marker, TRUST, in blue marker, COURAGE, in red marker, and INTEGRITY, in black marker. These were boldly, the very words that we would need to demonstrate. While the logistics team gave each table a copy of the rules, our seminar instructor began to explain “The Blocks Game.”
These were higher words, in that they were positive, beautiful, and inspiring. Granted they would all mean something different to everyone in the room, playing the game or not, but the words themselves were truly universal themes. These words have soul and lend themselves to empowering thoughts, and thoughts have a tendency to become reality. The rules of the game stated that nobody on your team could act out, spell, or draw the word you were demonstrating. The only ones you could talk to were your team members, however, while demonstrating the word, there was to be complete silence. As a team, we were allowed ten-minute breaks, but only once we had completed a demonstration, and no one could leave without everyone leaving. The entire team had to be present for the word demonstration, but not everyone necessarily had to participate in said demonstration. For this game, players consisted of each of the twelve teams who would be “the senders of communication” and the logistics staff who would be “the receivers of communication.” As much as this was being called a game, it was by no means a competition. These teams weren’t playing against each other, nor were the players on each team playing against one another. This was personal.
An important rule of the game was that your group of Senders could only demonstrate one word at a time, however we did not have to do them in any particular order. So, obviously, not all of the teams were demonstrating the same word at the same time. Clearly, there was no copying what the other teams were doing in the room, in fact, we really weren’t even supposed to look at the other tables. The focus was to be on our team, our word, and our demonstration. Each table came equipped with its own nondescript bag full of blocks to play with. The blocks themselves were preschool-style, brightly-colored, wooden ones that came in big green and red rectangles, little orange rectangles, blue squares, tiny yellow and purple cylinders, and yellow wedges. The blocks could be placed on or around the table, and we could use all or any part of them, but either way the blocks had to be used in each of our word demonstrations. Lastly, each team of Senders was given the same two-hundred minutes to communicate all five of the words.
If the words themselves could be considered left brain, then the essence of each word was therefore right brain. The premise was that our communication needed to be transmitted from the space between the brain’s hemispheres - the Corpus Collosa. The demonstration couldn’t be too literal or too vague, and if it was either, the Receivers would let you know by “not getting” your demonstration. However, if they did get your communication and correctly identified the word, there was one more rule to follow: Celebrate! Jump up and down, whoop and holler, dance around your table... whatever it took to show that we were excited and to make sure everyone else in the room knew it. Games are more often than not a reflection of behavior. The blocks and the words, the colors, the Senders, the Receivers, the day itself, and the time, there were no coincidences here. It was all very well planned and executed. It had taken just shy of thirty years, and the past two days of “workshop,” for me to get to this point. It was a point of stillness and focus in my mind that I didn’t realize I had attained.
Stay tuned! Continued next week.