The Secret Art Of Keeping Cards Castles From Falling Down

You know how to make a castle from deck cards? Once you learn how to do it, it’s very easy, actually. You take two cards and make them hold one against the other on the top edge. Near this triangle you make a new one, using another pair of cards. And then you lay out horizontally a new card on top of those two triangles, which will hold them together. On top of it you put another triangle. Voila. You have a deck cards castle. The smallest one, of course, but still a card castle.

The hard part comes when you want one of these to last longer than 2 or 3 minutes. These types of structures are very sensitive. Just a little bit of wind and they’re all down. Very, very sensitive.

Our Life Structures

There was a time when I was thinking that only castle cards are sensitive structures. That the vast majority of the other things in my life are much solid than a card castle. But, as I grew old, I realized this is just an illusion. At a very deep level, our life structures are pretty much identical with a card castle. We may think they aren’t so easy to broke down, but in fact they are.

Let’s say you’re running your own business. You got your stuff together pretty well, you have a little bit of market share, paying customers and loyal employees. You have a pretty neat and shiny castle built there. Then, out of nowhere, a financial crisis hits in. Your customers are running out of money, you can’t pay your employees anymore and you have to close the business down. Your castle is literally falling apart.

Or, let’s say you got yourself a pretty solid relationship. A marriage, for instance. You communicate well with your partner, your life is unfolding peacefully in front of the two of you and you act like a team. Then, one day you wake up and realize you’re in somebody else’s dream. Not in your own dream. And you decide to end that relationship. All your shiny castle will fall down in a few months.

A business, a relationship, even a house. They can fall down anytime.

As I grew old, I realized that keeping your life together is pretty much a question of keeping your card castles in good order. Do anything you can to make them as solid as you can. I call this the hidden art of keeping the castle cards together. And today I’m going to share with you some of my secret techniques. 😉

The 4 Secrets Of The Hidden Art Of Keeping The Castle Cards Together

cards castles in waiheke island

Something like this… (A real cards castle on Waiheke Island, New Zealand)

1. Build It In A Safe Place

Always look for a good foundation for your castle. Find a quiet place, with not too much wind.

In other words, pay close attention to your surroundings. And by surroundings I understand pretty much everything that surrounds you, not only space. Pay attention to the relationships you’re building with this castle. Are they usually stormy? Unpredictable? Sometimes we like the unpredictable, it gives us a sense of thrill, but when the unpredictable hits our castle, we’re sad. So think things over.

Also, be careful at the outside conditions, is this a stormy place? In business, this would mean that your market has a lot of ups and downs. In relationships, it means your partner friends: are they in the same league as you?

A castle card built in a windy place won’t last more than a few minutes.

2. Build It With Quality Cards

This always goes down to picking the best available resource you may have access to. It involves the best people you may have access to for your business. It involves a reliable and trustworthy partner for your relationship. It involves the best materials for building your house, if that’s the castle you are building right now.

A castle built with poor quality cards will not even stand, regardless of the surroundings. You may have the best place, the best conditions, but if you’re not paying close attentions to your cards, your castle won’t grow. For instance, your cards may be too soft, not able to hold on to the responsibility of the card on top of them. Or they may be too slippery, not really willing to be part of a fixed structure.

Just do whatever you feel like to put your cards to a stress test before starting to build a castle together. It will save so much trouble later on, when you’ll be focused on the actual building process.

3. Build It With Care

Pay attention to joints and the distance between cards. Make them optimal. A far fetched business will equal to a bigger distance between two triangles. It will weaken the whole structure. A relationship in which you wait for the other person to “grow up” or to quit an addiction has the same effect. It affects the whole structure resistance.

Leverage your structures. If you built a triangle here and then another one a mile away, it will take years to build the intermediary triangles, until everything will be linked. Whatever you built in your life and you’re proud of, use it. Don’t throw it away in search of another thrill, as spectacular as it may look like to build a new beginning in a far away place.

A card castle build in a safe place, with good quality cards and with a lot of care will last far more than you believe. I have build cards castles which lasted years and I know I can build others again too.

4. Prepare For The Fall Down

This is the last one. It took me a lot of time to get it, but I consider it to be the most important secret of this hidden art.

Keep in mind that everything you build is subject to decay. No matter how safer the place, how good the cards and how perfect the structure, there will be at some point something that will shake it down. Accept it. Even more, wait for it. The subtlest thing in the secret art of building deck cards castles is that they are meant to go down.

And they do this for a very good reason: to give you room to start a new one.

The joy is always in building those castles, again and again, and not much in keeping them from falling down.

Hence, this post is a little bit useless. 😉



Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner


The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”

And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.

Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.

If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.

Running For My Life -from zero to ultramarathoner

Dragos Roua

The guy who started all this. Entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner, tanguero, father and risk taker. I'm blogging here, but I also spend a lot of time in this marvelous space.. You're invited, by the way.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. First of all, when I read the #4 I thought, how can you count that as a point of option for not letting the cards fall down. But then I realized that preparation, as they say, for the worst is the best way to prevent the worst. Enjoyed the post, Dragos.

  2. This is awesome. Thanks for sharing. I have never been very good at building things with cards but after reading this I want to go try it 🙂

  3. I don’t think this post was useless. Any article that is thought provoking is very useful. Your analogy still holds true. Sometimes the cards of your life have to come tumbling down, so you can rebuild. I’m very much with you on this one.

    1. “useless” was just a way of saying “I just lured you a little bit into something not entirely true” 😉

  4. Hi Dragos, I am new to your blog and appreciate your thoughtful ideas on this post as well as the rich imagery/metaphor.

    Another way of looking at this is as a rhythm of life where as you very elegantly point out, a castle will rise and fall but the power, the beauty, the life force is in the creation process. The patient, conscious and careful construction of the castle is in itself the reward for a fully lived life. The fall is just part of the cycle and allows us to never stay stuck in comfort.

    Look forward to exploring previous posts as well as the ones to come.

    -Bernardo

  5. I believe in the law of entropy, so eventually all those castles will fall down eventually =) You’re right, the key is to keep building them over and over at a faster rate than they fall down… hmm much like a pyramid scheme ^_^

  6. Hey Dragos… You had me at your analogy. It’s brilliance to make those poker materials into literature that explains how life is best lived. So love this! Wait till I invite some friends over and set out a deck of cards! LOL!

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