Oh Level 158 of Candy Crush… You Almost Ended Me
King Charles in Pippin croons that “it’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart.” And while that may be true for war, it is most definitely true for level 158 of Candy Crush. Here is the thing, I don’t mind working my ass off towards a goal, knowing that all the brainpower I am putting towards solving a problem or completing a task will pay off in the end. But I hate luck-based situations. And level 158 of Candy Crush is a luck-based board.
It’s one of those levels that frustrate me because it feels a lot like infertility: there is nothing you can do to make those candies cascade as you need them to cascade in the same way that a person cannot make an embryo implant despite the New York Times misusing that word every time they write about IVF. A doctor cannot implant an embryo; she can only transfer it. Which means that treating infertility is like throwing spaghetti at the wall with the goal of making the pasta (or embryo) stick. Sure, you can do things to up the chances that the wall will hold the pasta such as using a non-glossy paint or not washing the starch off a strand of spaghetti, in the same way that you can do things to up the chances — such as building a beautiful lining or taking PIO injections — that the embryo will burrow in and stay for nine months. But ultimately, it’s luck, it’s chance, it’s doing the same thing over and over again until it works.
In other words, like this level of Candy Crush.
Is that, perhaps, why this game has such a hold over me? Because my mind is so accustomed to lather, rinse, repeat? To failing and failing and failing, but still trying again anyway?
For those who don’t play (or haven’t reached this level yet), it consists of a two-sided board. Candy from the left side falls into the right side, and the goal is to move a single nut or cherry to the bottom of the right board.
At the bottom of the right side are two pieces of candy encased in licorice. There are also two chocolate machines on the right side, generating chocolate with each move. The point is to use striped candies to blow apart the chocolate and licorice on the right side of the board. It’s not that there isn’t skill involved, but it sort of doesn’t matter how smart you are, because if you can’t make those horizontal striped pieces, you pretty much can’t win this board.
And I had a lot of rounds where I couldn’t make a horizontal striped piece at all.
As I was rounding on that point where I just wanted to give up on Candy Crush because I was no longer having fun, I had a board where I could break one of the licorice pieces in the first move. My second move created a speckled doughnut. My third move dropped that doughnut on the right side of the board via a cascading of candy.
And then everything fell into place, like getting asked to prom, getting a college acceptance letter, and passing your physics test… all in the same day.
In 9 moves, the board cleared with little effort and my nut dropped out the bottom while I tossed my head back in relief. I had 11 moves leftover in which fish and striped candies ratcheted up my score. I took a screenshot of my victory. I’m not ashamed to admit that. Well, yes, I am ashamed, but I’m pretending that it’s totally normal to take screenshots of my Candy Crush victories.
When Josh walked in the door, I asked him how his day was, and then volunteered that I had passed Level 158 of Candy Crush. I reported on it as if it were my job, a fantastic break at work that will change our lives for the better rather than a random level in an iPhone game.
“What made you finally pass it?” he asked.
“It didn’t take any particular skill,” I remarked. “It was just luck.”
“Smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart.”
There are times in your life when you want to be smart; when you want to be able to see the solution, make things happen, have the great idea. I can’t think of anyone who has succeed in their chosen endeavour who didn’t have a type of brilliance in their back pocket. And then, there are times when you just want to get lucky. When you want all the elements to fall into place, ensuring success, because intelligence is little help in these situations.
Would you rather be lucky or smart (and no, you can’t pick both)?