Mark Woods: Why I Started Playing Wordle. A Father’s Day Story.

My father had a passion for puzzles, everything from the twisted turns of a Rubik’s Cube to the cryptic clues of crossword puzzles, not to mention countless books brimming with word and math challenges that filled our home. Had he been around in the age of Wordle, I have no doubt it would have become part of his daily routine.

As for me, puzzles never quite sparked the same joy. When Wordle became a global sensation a few years back, I found myself resisting its charm. The idea of adding yet another daily task to my list felt unnerving. But then, the unimaginable happened—I found myself drawn into the world of Wordle, and now, it’s an essential part of my day, save for that one week on a backpacking trip where technology was blissfully absent.

So, what changed my mind? The long story short: my daughter Mia’s journey into adulthood and the physical distance it introduced.

Before her final semester, Mia embarked on a summer internship far from home, in a location known for its thrilling roller coasters—a stark contrast to her usual surroundings and certainly my own preferences. My wife, Toni, and I helped settle her into what would be her summer residence, a stark, somewhat bleak employee housing that had previously been a motel.

The experience was emotionally taxing. Despite Mia’s independence, this felt different; it highlighted the perpetual concern we carry as parents, regardless of our children’s age.

It was during this transition, amidst a cluttered small room with a lone wobbly table, that Mia engaged in her daily Wordle routine—a tradition foreign to me until that moment. Viewing it as a bridge to maintain our connection despite the miles, I asked her to show me the ropes. That day marked my entry into the world of Wordle, a simple task that offered a brief respite and a sense of achievement.

The daily exchange of Wordle scores with Mia soon became more than just sharing game results; it was a comforting signal, a reminder that despite the distance, she was alright.

Mia’s summer passed with the expected ups and downs, yet through it all, Wordle remained a constant, a daily ritual that tied us together. The game had unexpectedly evolved into a meaningful part of our relationship, much like the tradition I shared with my father of picking NFL game winners—another seemingly simple activity that, in hindsight, was rich with connection and nostalgia.

This tradition wasn’t just about football or puzzles; it was about creating a space for us to connect, transcending the ordinary to foster a sense of closeness despite the physical or emotional distance between us.

Reflecting on this, I’m reminded of the origins of Wordle, a game born from love, intended as a unique gift for a partner. Its exponential growth from a handful of players to millions across the globe speaks volumes of its universal appeal. Yet, despite its widespread popularity, at its core, Wordle remains a personal experience, a simple yet powerful means of connecting with others.

As Father’s Day approaches, I find myself grateful not only for the memories of my dad but also for the new traditions I’ve formed with my daughter. Wordle has become more than just a game for us; it’s a reminder of the ongoing bond we share, a daily check-in that keeps us connected regardless of the miles that separate us.

In embracing WordRecaptcha, I’ve not only discovered a newfound appreciation for puzzles but also uncovered a deeper understanding of the ways we seek and find connections in our lives, often in the most unexpected places.

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