This entry brings an opportunity to learn and perhaps, grow. I’ve been on a “crypto-binge” as of late. Playing and solving cryptograms as a wind-down to my day. For those of you who may not be familiar with the game; a cryptogram is a word game where a paragraph or quote is solved by substituting real alphabet letters for the hidden letters. For example, an “A” might actually be represented as a “Z” in the puzzle (clue). Here’s a simple cryptogram I just made up: RZCV Z PEEW WZQ. I’ll hold on to the answer for fun — just in case anyone wants to give it a try.
So, more to the point, it occurred to me that cryptograms/sudoku/crossword puzzles, etc., may be popular for a couple reasons:
1.) Competition. Don’t we love to compete!? I know I have a competitive streak in me. I keep it in check, but it’s still there. Maybe it’s part of a fight or flight response (I want to secure my place in the world) or the survival-of-the-fittest component, (If I exercise and strengthen, i will live longer).
2.) Compartmentalization. It’s a way to “fix” life, if you will. That’s a bit dramatic, but I do belive that because we can’t control so many things in life, i.e., death, these games help us to gain some level of control. In the world of puzzles, there is always a right way and a wrong way. There is always a definitive answer. This is so rare for us in life. How are the stocks doing? Am I gaining or losing money? Will I retain my current work position in this economy? Will my love continue loving me back? Will I be healthy five years from now? Will I be alive five years from now? It’s a throw of the dice. Yes, we can make some positive choices that will head us in the right direction, but when push comes to shove, how much is really up to us?
There is a third reason these riddles keep us occupied. Maybe we quite simply enjoy them. I would like to think this is the true reason I like cryptograms. They’re just a bit of fun to relax to. And I suppose that in itself is a very good reason.
We can all use more fun — no matter the guise.