This post is a follow-up to my most recent previous post, my December 3 post entitled “This Thing Called Hope…or Are You A Sports Fan or a WordleBot?” If you haven’t read that post, please do so before reading this one in order to understand the foundations of what I will be discussing. Click HERE if you want to read or re-read that post before continuing.
How often in your life do you feel stunned? How often does something happen that LITERALLY takes your breath away?
For me, it doesn’t happen that often.
But it happened to me yesterday, December 4th.
I’ve taken 24 hours to write about it in my blog for two reasons:
- I’ve been contemplating the meaning, if any, of what happened
- I didn’t want to give away any spoilers because…
YESTERDAY I SOLVED WORDLE ON MY SECOND GUESS!
Normally, I would be excited and celebrate my achievement, but I wouldn’t be stunned. I was stunned because, as those of you who read my previous post know, the night before I had written about how my attempt to solve the word game in only two guesses was an example of HOPE over LOGIC.
It was the timing of the win that took my breath away.
Have I ever solved the game in two guesses before? Maybe, but if so I don’t remember it. I certainly haven’t since The New York Times took over the game and I started reading the WordleBot, so if I have, it would have been in 2021.
But given the previous day’s post, part of me couldn’t believe it as I watched all my tiles flip over with my chosen letters on a green background, meaning they were right.
Another part of me, however, felt like it was perfect, perhaps even pre-ordained.
So for several minutes I sat in silence with a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach, wondering what just happened and what was going on.
Eventually, I turned to WordleBot to see what insight it could give me
First, WordleBot told me I had been both skillful and lucky, and congratulated me.
It turns out that for the December 4th word, HEART was an extraordinarily good choice, because it elimanated all but 8 words in the Wordle vocabulary.
It was then that I remembered my process. Knowing R was in the right place, my first thought was that the E might be the last letter, which would require a vowel before the R. The vowel would have to be an I, O, or U. I didn’t think it was likely to be A -another vowel-R-E, which meant the A would have to be in the first place. And as soon as I thought about A being the first letter, a word popped into my head. I didn’t try to identify any other possible words (apparently there were 7, but I didn’t know that). My intuition told me to just go for it without considering other alternatives, so I did.
Any guesses what word I chose?
Really? People chose SABRE or FAIRE over ADORE?
This demonstrates what I was talking about in my previous blog post. Although from its first guess WordleBot knew that E was the last letter in the word, it didn’t include E in its second guess. Instead it chose a word that combined the 2nd-most-used letter in English (A), the 3rd-most-used letter (R), the 4th-most-used letter (I), the 7th-most-used letter (N), and the 10th-most used letter (C). Since it had already confirmed the #1 letter, which is E, and eliminated the 6th-most-used letter, T, WordleBot went strictly for the most commonly used letters and gave up the opportunity to solve it in 2 steps. My guess came from intuition, not letter frequency. It turns out that O is the 5th-most-frequently-used letter, while D is all the way down to the 12th most-frequently-used letter, which is about in the middle. But I didn’t know those statistics at the time. I just guessed.
Still, I WON! I beat the Artificial Intelligence program. I feel like the Garry Kasparov,of Wordle! (By that I mean the 1996 Garry Kasparov, when the world’s reigning chess champion beat IBM’s Deep Blue computer in a 6 game chess match, NOT the 1997 Kasparov, when he lost to the re-programmed machine).
Now, ordinarily guessing the word in 2 tries is not THAT big of a stretch. The math statisticians say we have less that a 1% chance at getting the word right on the first guess and about 6.5% of doing so on the second. But the odds of getting it in 2 guesses the day after writing about my HOPE for a 2 guess solution? I think that’s a LOOOOONG shot. And after I told the world that my opening word is always HEART, they choose ADORE as the word of the day? Isn’t it pretty likely that someone who choses HEART for an intentional reason is going to come up with ADORE rather than, say, SABRE?
Maybe this all just random. Maybe it is just a crazy coincidence. However, the psychologist Carl Jung came up with a concept called “synchronicity.” Synchronicity is the idea that two or more events that we call “coincidences” because they can’t be explained in our scientific or LOGICAL definition of cause and effect may still be connected in some other way. The Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology calls synchronicity “circumstances that appear meaningfully related yet lack a causal connection.” A typical example Jung supplied was when we dream of someone we don’t regularly see or hear from, and then receive a letter from them the next day (frequently updated these days to a phone call, text, or tweet). Jung believed that, like dreams, synchroncity is a message from our subconscious about some deep psychological working going on beneath our conscious mind. (If you want to know more about synchronicity, here is a nice article appropriate for non-psychologists from Sychology Today entitled “Synchronicities: A Sure Sign You’re on the Right Path.“
And that’s what this felt like to me. It felt kind of like a blessing, like proof that my reliance on HOPE is rewarded. Maybe it was saying I should trust my HEART more and my LOGICAL brain less. It was my intuition besting the most-frequently-used letters number crunking of a machine.
I wanted to sleep on it before writing this, and I woke up with this insight.
In one of the many organizations I’ve participated with in my journey of self discovery, I learned the distinction between “playing to win” and “playing not to lose.” WordleBot is playing not to lose; it sacrifices the chance to win in 2 guesses to minimize the average number of guesses it takes to win. But I play Wordle to win. I take the unlikely shot that I can guess it in two tries by using the letters I know are in the winning word, even if it results in me taking more guesses overall to discover the word if my 2nd guess is wrong. And I’m sticking to that strategy. After all, Wordle is just a game…
However, I think the message from my subconscious is to look at where else in my life am I playing to win, and where I might be playing to not to lose. Because, really, in my heart, playing to win to me is that passionate embrace of what poet Mary Oliver called “your one wild and precious life.” That’s how I want to live. Am I living that is all areas of my life? Well, that will be the subject of this week’s meditations.
I know some of you may ask, Is this real? Or is she just making all these connections up in her mind? I don’t know. But I will leave you with a couple of quotes:
From Carl Jung from his book Synchronicity:
“We must remember that the rationalistic attitude of the West is not the only possible one and is not all-embracing, but is in many ways a prejudice and a bias that ought perhaps to be corrected.”
From John Green from his World Cup short video of December 3
“Because you can never know.”