Two years ago I started playing Mah Jongg when a neighbor offered to teach a small group of us. My week was filled with writing, but I thought it was time for a change. Maybe trying something new would jump start new ideas.
I kicked myself numerous times after I said I would give the group a try. I didn’t have time to learn or play. I didn’t need another hobby. But having said yes. . .
I got hooked by Mah Jongg almost immediately. I play weekly now and love it. Mah Jongg is just challenging enough to keep me on my toes but not as challenging as say, bridge, where casual conversation around the card table is frowned upon. We chat, snack, and go home a few quarters richer or poorer. The women in my group are now good friends. What’s not to love about this?
This week was a big one for Mah Jongg players in the U.S. because the National Mah Jongg league just mailed out our new card. Mahjong is played with 144 tiles and four players, and each year the league changes the hands we need to win. This year there are 51 possible hands, some of them quite different from the hands we played last year. My group played the new card yesterday for the first time, and chaos ruled. But so did excitement. New possibilities. New ways to win. It was indeed time for a change.
Does that sound familiar in your life? Have you ever gotten used to something that suddenly disappeared? Of course you have, because that’s how life works for everybody, whether we try desperately to hold on to the old or not. After the shock was over, did you find that whatever replaced your former comfort zone energized you in new ways?
Not only the Mah Jongg card has changed in my life. I’m starting a new novel, and I plan to write it in a different way. It’s a stand alone story, not one of a series, and suddenly the sky is the limit on what I can do. Some mornings I wake up and wish the “limit” was a wee bit closer, maybe just as high as my roof.
Change is a little scary, isn’t it?
Last night I saw a wonderful film, Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren. While not every critic agrees, I found the movie mesmerizing because it’s based on the true tale of Maria Altmann, a woman in her eighties, who learns that the Austrian government has at last agreed to consider returning some of the art work stolen from Jews by the Nazis during World War Two.
Maria, with the help of a young lawyer, a grandson of famed composer Arnold Schoenberg, sets out to regain ownership of Gustav Klimt’s painting of her aunt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, also known as Woman in Gold because hey, Bloch-Bauer is clearly a Jewish name, and the Nazis certainly didn’t want that association.
I won’t tell you more except to say that Maria, in her eighties, is not too old to realize it’s time for a change in her own life. She is still valiant enough, morally strong enough, to try to bring one about despite her terrifying past. Her young attorney realizes it’s time for a change, too, and risks his career and financial stability to help her.
So what risks are you taking this week? Is it time for a change? Even a little one, like my new Mah Jongg card? Are you poised on the side of the pool ready to dive in?
Will you still be standing there tomorrow?