Tag Archive for: Wordle

Farewell 2023, and good riddance.  In our generation, it is hard to recall a more heartbreaking, crisis-ridden 12 months.  The year-in-review news summaries are enough to turn the toughest stomach. Wars, weather crises, political turmoil, unrelenting gun violence—it is enough to bow the most fervently faithful head.

As we all search the horizon for bright spots, seeking hope anywhere, I started a list of inspirations from 2023.  From the tiny and personal to the global, the private to the very public, here are 10 widely disparate things and people—some more serious than others–that were bright lights for me in a tough year. In no particular order:

Neighbors still help neighbors.  In early summer, a favorite neighbor up the street experienced a sudden and serious medical emergency while alone at home.  Her kind and attentive son, blocked from reaching her quickly by an untimely traffic problem, called a neighbor, who called another neighbor, who brought still more neighbors.  All raced to her, waiting with her for the ambulance and tending to her home and beloved dogs while she got the medical attention she needed in the hospital.  Waiting for her return home, we circled round, making lists of how best to help in the next phase and sharing ideas for what would mean most to her. Interestingly, our street of all recently built homes forms a very new set of neighbors.  There’s such hope in watching how quickly the bonds of community form and sustain.

Sean Dietrich is an influencer of hope.  This writer, a columnist, novelist, and humorist, devotes his career to inspiring readers through sharing stories of the downtrodden, the overlooked, the defeated.  He testifies to how they struggle, and how they rise.  He shared so many memorable stories this year there is no room to list them all, but his blooming friendship with a young blind girl named Becca who has an angelic singing voice has stirred my heart every single time.  You don’t follow Sean to experience literary greatness; you follow Sean if you want to believe that greatness in the human spirit still triumphs in daily life.

I got Wordle in two.  Twice in the same week!  There’s nothing like blazing, blind luck to inspire hope.  If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.  Never, ever, ever give up.

One doctor really listened.  Absorbing my frustration about a medical problem that lingered, unabated by treatment thus far, the young doctor (about the age of my daughter, I surmised) snapped his laptop shut.  He turned on the stool in the examining room to face me directly and hear me out.  My problem was nowhere close to serious or life-threatening, but it was throwing my daily life off balance, and I was getting desperate.  This has been going on too long, I fumed, and he quietly agreed.  Sometimes it takes multiple tries to find the solution, he added calmly.  Can you hang in there with me while we keep trying?  He really heard me, I thought to myself, shocked to realize how rare that has become.  Hope renewed by having an ally, I said I would. And I did.

The Covenant School parents just won’t go away.   The March 27 slaughter at Covenant School of three children and three adults by a deranged former student with an assault rifle was described by our mayor as Nashville’s worst day.  The ripples of heartbreak and despair spread everywhere in the community.  Conversely, there are ripples of hope, maybe small, but still visible, in the determined voices of the Covenant parents’ group that is publicly advocating for improved gun safety in Tennessee.  Soundly defeated, even harassed and vilified for their intervention at a special session of Tennessee’s legislature in late summer, they are already speaking out as the lawmakers prepare to reconvene in the new year.  There’s a faint but discernible glimmer of light in the widening circle of churches and other community-based groups rallying to support their position and kindling the public dialogue.

When love wins, the light reflects on many.  This summer, my daughter married a loving and kind man in a ceremony meticulously planned to reflect their joy in each other.  Watching a child transformed by a loving partnership is surely one of a parent’s greatest gifts.  Watching the parallel joy of her children in their new family unit adds a dimension that beams hope all over the place.

Kentucky re-elected Gov. Andy Beshear.  Major political forces invested heavily in creating a different result, but the voters in my home state nevertheless returned their governor to his office for another four years.  It is so hard, sometimes almost impossible, to like or admire politicians in these times. Yet Beshear inspires hope by demonstrating that public officials can choose to rise above the current tide and lead with vision and decency.  Faced with the pandemic and multiple weather-related tragedies, Beshear speaks common sense, refuses to indulge in ugly partisanship, and openly acknowledges his faith without weaponizing it.  Here’s hoping he has a long and successful career as a public servant in the best sense.

When you need an optimism demo, watch a dog.  Yes, yes, yes, legends are written, and movies are made about all the magical gifts of animals—their dedication, their healing powers, their learning skills and discernment.  On that very long list of things to cherish in their daily lives, I choose optimism.  In my house, there’s a morning ritual as predictable as dawn; my dog spins, dances and prances in front of the closet door closed on his food bin.  Not in so many words, he radiates hope and absolute, unwavering confidence: You’re going to open that door, I just KNOW it, and you’re doing to scoop that stuff for me, ANY MINUTE NOW!  I know you are, I know it, I DO, and I’m SO EXCITED I can’t stand it ONE MORE SECOND.  And I will say ALL this again tomorrow, and every morning after that.

Jon Batiste’s musical genius is getting the attention it deserves.  Many of us first encountered the New Orleans native when he was band director for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  In the last couple of years his career has exploded, as he has won Grammys, an Oscar and more accolades for an astonishing range of work that includes movie scores and a couple of full-length albums.  Jon defies genre and radiates hope and faith.  For a quick dose of the power of Jon’s work if you aren’t already familiar, try his song Freedom.

There was a star.  On a chilly Christmas morning, a few days after the winter solstice, the dog needed his morning break just as dawn was barely evident.  Watching him from the back porch facing the woods behind the house, I looked up at the still-dark sky.  There was a bright, single pinpoint of light reflecting in the east above the trees.  A satellite, maybe?  A helicopter hovering?  Or the Eastern Star of Christmas?  I know what I think.


Is it a high-potential starting word in America’s favorite word game?  Three good consonants, two frequent vowels…a good opening volley this morning?

Or, is it the SOUND that erupted painfully from my throat, scaring the dog, when I busted my Wordle streak?  (AGAIN.)

If you are among the millions addicted to the word game that has gripped the nation, if you constantly update your strategy or sweat over your starting word, if you are on a text thread that shares scores every morning, then you know the real answer.  It’s both.

What’s that?  Not a Wordler?  We fanatics don’t JUDGE, of course, but I may quietly speculate what life is like under that rock.  I’ll even confess I started playing myself last year, after suffering the most acute case of fear-of-missing-out that ever struck.  What on earth were all these rows of blocks on Facebook, where the devoted shared their daily scores?  Why was everyone asking, “Did you get the word today?”  I was pretty much the only person I knew who wasn’t playing.  A good pal offered to COACH this beginner, and I dove in.  And was immediately hooked.

If you’ve had your eyes and ears open at all in the past year or two (this morning’s Wordle is daily puzzle No. 736) in the western world, you likely know this game offers you six chances to guess a five-letter word by the process of elimination of letters.  Sounds simple, right? You key in the letters for your GUESS and get instantaneous results. Green squares indicate correct letters in the right order, yellows are correct letters, out of order, and the remaining letters are eliminated.  You play it on your phone, and if you sign in, it tallies your running results, totalling how many tries it takes you and how many days in a row you get it right (the streak).

What could possibly go wrong?

Hold my beer.  Some of us find new ways to defeat ourselves at least once a week, if not more frequently.  Take note here of just a few ways a Wordler can blow it.  After 320 plays (hey!  Is there a Wordle anniversary gift for one year?), I recommend that you don’t:

  • Start playing when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. Awake, maybe, but brain still fuzzy, you’ll overlook blatant clues and annoy yourself so thoroughly you’ll soon be even more AWAKE, even more unlikely to recapture SLEEP, and get a crappy score.  A two-for-one nightmare.
  • Play the same starting word every single ding-dang day. There are those who SWEAR by this strategy—and hey, I know one who outscores me most days—but I can’t stick with that.  It left me totally BORED.
  • Select your first guess based on the mood of the day. I woke up the other morning still glowing from a wonderful gathering of loved ones the previous day, so I started with HAPPY.  The irony was unbearable; I busted the streak painfully, even with four of the five letters by the third guess.  Why did you WASTE an extra consonant, with those two P’s, asked a kind fellow-sufferer, who probably heard my GROAN miles away at his house.  I don’t know, because I was, well, you know, HAPPY, before I played this dadgum game?  Some have luck starting with the weather (CLOUD); he, on the other hand, often starts with terms inspired by the daily news.  On the historic day of our former president’s recent federal indictment, he started with CRIME and got the word in three tries.  Poetic justice?  You decide.
  • Forget that many words contain a letter that appears more than once. I made this mistake, oh, I dunno, 25 or 30 times before I finally caught on, being quick that way. Still, hope glimmers faintly on the horizon, proving that even the most bullheaded players may finally catch on.  Today’s word is RODEO, and I got it in four.
  • Play without your glasses because you are too lazy to get up and get them. Need I point out how much M looks like N when you are squinting, and so forth?

How could I miss TASTE? And the streak begins again at Zero.

Enough about ways we make it harder.  What about ethics?  (Gasp!  Must we apply moral standards to Wordle?  Examine your own conscience, is my advice.)

Of all the Wordlers I know, only two have openly confessed–one of them whispering, if you can do that in a text–to consulting an outside source to improve results. One reviews a website that archives previous words; he checks it before entering a guess.  Does that make him a CHEAT, he asked me recently?  Reading this text, I inhaled sharply.  Not because I was scandalized, but because I felt stupid for not knowing that the words don’t repeat.  Or that such websites exist.

Another daily Wordler confessed to roaming the wild, forsaken deserts of Google to get the word in six tries or less—checking the spelling, or asking the Almighty G if her guess is actually a word (the latter an unnecessary step, as the game rejects entries not found in the dictionary and doesn’t count them as one of your six tries).

My personal diversion from the most rigid standards of play involves asking for clues.  One recent morning I had eliminated so many letters in four tries that I couldn’t even type out a word that actually WAS a word with the letters I had left.  After about a quarter-million attempts and three cups of coffee, I would have happily busted my streak just to finish, but, no.  There was nothing for it but to plead for assistance.  I texted my pal:  Give me a hint, I begged, PRIDE and SHAME abandoned, wondering how I could possibly get on with my day, which happened to contain some actual productive objectives and commitments beyond word puzzles.  Felt the same more than once, have you? If you’re thinking of slinking to the dark side and joining me there, here’s a tip:  Ask for the first letter, if you don’t have it already.  It flips on a switch with illumination more powerful than the overhead light at the dentist’s office.

I read this week that the New York Times is introducing a new word game called “Connections.”  Will it draw away the Wordle faithful, or just consume still more time in the average day for addicted puzzle players?  “The editor of the game talks about how she makes it feel fun,” begins the announcement story.  Oh, really?  I decline to speculate on how much fun is actually involved in my addiction to Wordle.

Yet I stick with it.  And I don’t want for much.  My goals are simple:  I want to improve my stats to show more puzzles solved in THREE tries than in four.  That gap is big, and the mountain looks high. I may never get there, but if I do, I’ll be so HAPPY.

AGONY may be the answer, but getting it in three is still a triumph.