Part Three of Four:

“We got this! The rest of the words will be easy now,” or so we thought, believing that all we would have to do was pick another word and match it to its colored block, and boom, we’re “communicating.” Not quite. Over the next two and a half hours our team only had one more word successfully received, and we didn’t communicate it in any so-called telepathic way. The séance-thing was well played, and we clearly had Trust in each other, but Love? Even though we weren’t supposed to, we started to look around the room to see how the other teams were communicating their words. As much as there wasn't a single séance going on, there were people lying on the ground having blocks dropped over their heads only to have them caught just before they hit the person in the face, while another woman was wearing the table cloth like a veil and gown as if she was getting married, perhaps to one of her blocks. It was somewhere close to midnight and our brains hurt from this whole exhausting experience. After hours of discussing what these words meant to each one of us, we still couldn’t agree on the best way to demonstrate them, as a team or individually. We could tell by the other teams' little celebrations that the “acting out” of the words seemed to be working as an acceptable communication to the Receivers. Needless to say, our team was more than a little frustrated. “Why weren’t we getting it anymore? How come they are now? And they’re not even doing it the way we did!” We had already tried it my way, and it wasn’t working anymore, so we tried it their way. We piled all the blocks in the middle of the table, called over the Receivers, and began our demonstration of us excitedly grabbing the blocks and tossing them up in the air with big smiles on our faces. Then we just stopped. Our demonstration was over. JOY DAMN IT! The Receivers did in fact did get our communication, but our celebration afterward - it just wasn’t the same.

By the time the two-hundred minutes were up, our team never successfully communicated the essence of the other three words. This part of the game was over, and there were no winners or losers. Deep inside, I knew we really did win something, for in that one instant, we had it, and I wasn’t about to forget it. Whatever it was. “That was the minor leagues. This next part is for the World Cup,” the organizers announced. The rules were the same except that now, all of the teams will be demonstrating the same word, at the same time, and the Receivers already know the word. “What you’re really looking for isn’t what you think it is,” they continued. RESPONSIBILITY was written in black marker on a single sheet of poster paper in the front and center of the room. There would be no time limit, as Saturday night crept into Sunday morning. Most of the teams, including ours, began where we left off, acting-out our word demonstration. Over, and over, and over again, it was all too literal for the Receivers. Operating on our second and third winds, we found ourselves back in the lobby, in our huddle, trying to find a reason to make one more last-ditch effort to solve this seemingly impossible game. From the looks of it, all of the other teams were in a similar mood. My teammate, Ken the psychologist, suggested we start over. “It worked the first time. It can work again,” he said. “All right Ken! I’m with you!,” I high-fived him. With that, the rest of our team seemed to succumb to the idea, with an attitude that was more of a “what the hell” than a “go team go” spirit, as we went back into the ballroom to try it one last time.

Reflecting the sentiments of quite possibly everyone else in the room, I began with where we had started nearly five hours earlier, and took another two minutes to express, “What I feel like saying is... I was really charged by the experience of our first demonstration and that after all of this, I feel very close to all of you and I'll never forget you. And, for what it's worth, I’m no longer uncomfortable being in the center of the room and my palms have stopped sweating. Oh, and I’m hungry and I’m tired. That is what I feel like saying.” By the time we had gone around the table, without even realizing it, we had communicated those last three words: LOVE, COURAGE, and INTEGRITY. Only this time there were no blocks, and each of us, as individuals, was a Sender while the rest of us were the Receivers. We already had trust in each other, and  now we seemed to love each other, which in turn took a tremendous amount of courage and subsequent integrity on each of our parts. We were in fact responsible for each other now.

A second seance was about to commence. There were no black blocks to match our new word the way we matched TRUST to the blue square, so we chose the purple cylinder as our “crystal ball,” simply because purple, symbolically-speaking, is the color of creativity and magic. Holding hands and our eyes closed, we called over the Receivers as we began our final demonstration. Mary, the nurse, was the last one to open her eyes, and not a word was spoken, but we didn’t let go. Our circle remained unbroken as we awaited the response from the Receivers. “You guys are really close. Really, really close. Keep going,” the Receiver leaned in and whispered to our team. Silently, eyes open, holding hands, we stayed with it. IT was getting very intense. There was an incredible sensation as though I could feel my cohorts' hearts in my own. We seemed to be one. In a spontaneous combustion, we all stood, centered and balanced, never breaking the circle. The team transitioned from hand holding to a group huddle, our heads bowed but still able to look into each other’s eyes. By now, all of the Receivers in the room had surrounded us in a protective circle, as one of them reached in and pulled away our table. Inching closer to each other, heads practically touching, I looked down to noticed that the woman directly across from me, social worker Yolanda, was only wearing one shoe. Staying huddled, we carefully sat back down, so close to each other that our knees were touching, with our hands clasped together in the center. I desperately wanted to look around, but my focus, my responsibility, was to Yolanda. Like magnets, we weren’t looking into one another's eyes, but through them, as she began to break down. Crying at first, then full-fledged sobbing, we never so much as blinked. There was communication going on, that was for damn sure, but the game was long over.   

The Receivers were all still surrounding us, talking us through IT, “Keep your eyes open and continue to support each other. Be there for each other. Keep going.” Yolanda and I were in our blind stare as she found her calm and we, as a team, all settled into a very peaceful state. As one of the Receivers told us to all keep looking into each other’s eyes, we remained in position, but I took the opportunity to look away from Yolanda and into the eyes of my other team members. The essence of responsibility is a balancing act of energy, and there can be no guards up. No ego. No “looking good or being cool.” The demonstration was over. Or so I thought.

Stay Tuned! The Blocks Game Concludes Next Week.


  • Michèle Thibeau

    “The essence of responsibility is a balancing act of energy, and there can be no guards up.” Mikel, with this sentence you’ve captured so much. From the personal and professional – in person or even at times in virtual – to the front row seat of the theatre, there is a true exchange of energy. I love how you’ve transmitted this message and I’m eager, as always, to read the next instalment.

  • Michael Katz

    You were each taking responsibility for each other is an intense way. Working as one to provide support. Nicely done and communicated!

  • Michael Katz

    You were each taking responsibility for each other is an intense way. Working as one to provide support. Nicely done and communicated!

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