powerful empty space

Games have rules. Built into the rules of most games is the rule of randomness, the wild card. In Scrabble, this rule is the blank tile.

In Scrabble, you try to build words from letters. The words interlock, like the words on a crossword puzzle. Unlike a crossword, however, the words in each game aren’t predetermined. They emerge as players build them together.

In addition to all the tiles with letters on them are two tiles left blank. They can become any letter. For example, if you have  Q and need a U, a blank works.  In themselves, they have no value, no little number in the bottom corner. Their value lies in what they enable, what they can help you do that you couldn’t otherwise.

They are like a time-out in a basketball game or in an argument. They let you focus. They are like an appointment that was scheduled and then canceled by the other person-free time to accomplish something…or maybe nothing (if you needed a break). They are like a friend who asks you how you are doing…and then waits for the answer. They are like the five minutes you spend in the morning planning the rest of the day…even if the plan doesn’t work out.

The blank tile, however, is of no help if you don’t decide to use it.

What’s the blank tile in your tray right now?


7 responses to “powerful empty space

  1. my blank tile is faith

    i was so geared up to use it
    in what i imagined to be some fantastic word
    man it was gonna be a doozie

    but then
    i wasn’t sure
    i kinda stuck with what i knew
    things that i could see and work with knowing (usually) the outcome

    i figured i’ dget through this legal stuff
    then come back to it

    faith would have helped me get through it
    i can smoosh it in there
    instead of putting it away “safe” somewhere

    i guess like the bags of gold
    like blank unused tiles

  2. Jesus told this story
    about three guys and
    piles of money.

    ah, but you know.

    and you just retold it
    and i understand it all new.

    oh my.

  3. Wow, Kat.
    Good post.
    Better comments.

  4. Jon-

    I come here because of what you say, but am regularly awed by how you say it:

    They are like a time-out in a basketball game or in an argument. They let you focus.

    …the whole paragraph- lovely.

    I also come because of Kat- and the other folks who are so clearly committed to supporting and being supported in their quest.

    Now I am leaving thinking- crap, what’s my blank tile? I need to figure out my blank tile…

    I have said it before- I am not good at pausing. I still need to work on that.

    Thanks (again)-


  5. Meg – I come here to find out what I’m thinking. And in this post and exchange am learning the importance of showing up even when you (I) don’t know the answer to the questions I ask. I mean, I understand the blank tile problem. from the inside. (or is it, on the inside?).

  6. Great post, Jon. I’m not sure how to add to this, unfortunately. I just know that this is extremely thought-provoking.

  7. hey Brian!
    Ah, but that’s the challenge for me. how do i create a context that will invite adding?